Wednesday, March 10, 2010

When smoke alarms attack

Our house is not on fire. I have checked. Every ten minutes for the past hour, while attempting to get the kids to bed.

We are fortunate to have those fancy smoke alarms in our house that are all hard-wired together. So when one freaks out, they all do. And so do small children.

This isn't the first time we've had trouble with the dumb things. They have occasionally declared a spontaneous family fire drill around 2am, just for the fun of it. No, not the kids. The smoke alarms.

Tonight, they waited until my husband was gone for an hour and I was reading the kids a bedtime story. They are loud. Especially since fire code demands that there be one detector per bedroom, and one at the top of the stairs. So at the top of our stairs, within a ten-foot radius, we have five smoke detectors. Wait, make that six. We also have one up there that is not hard-wired to the house, but is connected to the house alarm. No one sleeps through a fire in our house.

I think we have finally, within the last ten minutes, solved the problem. First, I removed every battery (one of our units beeps continually with a battery installed, so it had none to start). Then, I removed the two security system units, which freaked out the alarm panel (though the monitoring company didn't call to check on us, which annoys me). When the alarm went off again, my husband was just getting home. I jumped online and found info that dust and spiders can short the alarms.

I went downstairs to tell my husband (he was attempting to shut off power to the units...) and he found another detector that I'd missed, in the storage room, covered in spider webs. It appears to be the culprit. It has now been removed (so please don't start a fire in our basement for a few days, k?). The unit gave one last hurrah in my husband's hand as he carried it upstairs (Did I mention how loud those things are? What's that ringing noise?)

Upon further research, it appears that the manufacturer of our smoke alarms recommends replacing the whole unit every 10 years. Our house was built in 2000. You do the math.

BTW, its daylight savings time this weekend. Time to change your smoke alarm batteries.

1 comment:

Kyle M said...

Hi, I don't know you but a work for a fire safety company in SLC Utah. We do presentations to audiences about the dangers of house fires and ways to help prevent them. We can never really prevent a fire but we CAN be prepared for one. The only reason people die in fires is because you don't get enough or any warning. We spend a few dollars on a cheap piece of plastic made in Mexico and expect it to save our lives. Kind of ridiculous huh? In fact, if you read up on it, you will find that these standard smoke detectors have a failure rate of 58%. Even in their own user manuals it says that it is not a life saving device and cannot guarantee the detection of most fires. Well, there is one product that is guaranteed to get you out of your house the night of a fire. It is from a company called Master Guard and it is the only smoke detector that can be called a life saving device! Why? because in it's 40 year history it has NEVER failed. I don't work for Master Guard so I'm not trying to sell you anything. I just don't want people to lose loved ones to a fire when they absolutely do not have to. So, all I am suggesting is that you check it out. You can email me if you have any questions about it.