Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Low Battery Detector

We all know the dangers of fire.  If there is a fire in your home you could be burned or could inhale too much smoke.  These are things that most people consider to be less desirable.

To avoid these unpleasant scenarios many people purchase smoke detectors to put in their homes.  I am currently cranky at my smoke detector, so the rest of this post will be expressing that crankiness.  But before anyone gets too cranky at me I would like to express that I am a believer in smoke detectors and we even pay extra so that our smoke detector will automatically call the fire department if there is a problem.

Now that I've given that disclaimer, I'd like to discuss the function of the smoke detector.  It's whole purpose is that when there is smoke it makes a loud, obnoxious sound that should be translated in your head to mean, "DUDE!  THERE'S A FIRE IN YOUR HOUSE THAT COULD KILL YOU! GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!"  Yes, I believe if they could speak they would use the word "dude".

Fortunately, we have never had a fire so ours has not had to deliver that message.  Unfortunately, it still wants to be an active part of my life.  One of ours happens to be in the hallway right outside the bathroom door.  Whenever I take an exceptionally long shower, the steam flows out of the bathroom when I open the door.  The alarm goes off to notify me "DUDE!  YOU TOOK A REALLY LONG SHOWER!  IT MADE LOTS OF STEAM!  IT'S STEAMY! IT'S STEAMY! IT'S STEAMY!"  This is a very helpful message to receive, especially since I then get a call from the monitoring company and I have to explain that my house is not burning down, I just took a long shower.

But that's not why I am currently cranky.  The other night, I was awoken from my gentle slumber by a beeping noise.  I lay there and slowly drifted to the point where I was almost back asleep when it went off again.  This process repeated about 50,000 times.  My heart was filled with much anger.  The beeping was the alarm's way of saying. "DUDE!  MY BATTERY IS LOW!  I NEED A NEW BATTERY NOW! NO SLEEPING! NO SLEEPING!"

Here is what I don't understand about the low battery beep.  If you ignore it, three months later it's still beeping, only the meaning has changed to "DUDE!  YOU THOUGHT I HAD A LOW BATTERY, BUT I HAVE ENOUGH BATTERY TO BEEP UNTIL YOU GIVE IN!  I KNOW YOU'LL CRACK BEFORE I DO! JUST GIVE IN! JUST GIVE IN!"

I'll have you know I heeded the warning.  The beeping only lasted like 36 hours before we had bought new batteries.  But it made me question the primary function of this device.  Is it really a smoke detector?  Certainly it has the ability to detect smoke, but most people will never use that function.  The primary service that it provides is detecting a low charge within a battery.  I hereby declare that they are smoke detectors no more.  Henceforth, they shall be deemed low battery detectors.


  1. I do love a good low battery detector. That is almost the sole function of them. I guess they also are 'bad cook' detectors and also 'dirty oven' detectors. So I guess they do a lot.

  2. So I would say that this is the start of your becoming rich. You need to create a "Smoke Detector" in stead of a "Low Battery Detector". The trick is having it run off of a source that would be so long lasting that you don't have to replace it. Then everyone would buy it to save them the hassle of changing batteries. Either that or create a app. that tells people the level of there batteries in the smoke detectors so that they can change the battery before it begins beeping.

  3. Sometime, ask Dann about his smoke detectors... they don't run off batteries, and they don't detect steam. They only cost an arm and a leg.

    Also, I know you didn't ask for my advice, but have you considered moving the low batter/steam detector??

  4. So, should I put all my old batteries in my "Low Battery Detector" to see if they work?

  5. Cameron, according to Jen's comment that has already been invented, so I guess it's back to the drawing board for get rich ideas.

    Jen, ya I suppose moving it would be the smart thing to do. It's never really occurred to me. My solution has been to stand there and wave my towel as a preemptive measure before it goes off. That has worked pretty well.

    Graham, definitely put that low battery detection to good use. When it beeps you know there is still power just not very much.

  6. In the glory days at Alta Apartments, our fridge caught on fire. One roommate happened to be home and realized we were having an electrical fire before too much damage happened, and was able to call the fire department. Two fire engines and seven firefighters showed up to take care of the problem...and it wasn't until they arrived that our smoke detector started going off. I guess the smoke detector was ashamed that it wasn't doing its job, and decided to show it really did know what was going on.

  7. Well, I didn't wake up. I seem to sleep through a lot of middle of the night adventures.

  8. At school we have a "leap frog" reading tablet and every time you open it up it tells you "time to change the batteries". It lasted for a year like that then finally died. I gave in and changed them. Two weeks after I put in the new batteries it started up with "time to change your batteries!" I decided it just likes to use up the batteries telling me it is time to change them.

  9. On a similar note, I've never been in a building where a fire alarm has gone off and people automatically think there is a fire they must rapidly escape; it's always assumed that it is an unannounced fire drill or a mechanical error.

    Perhaps you should consider writing the biography of your detector called The Detector that Cried 'Fire.'

  10. I call mine the "forgotten cookies in the oven detector."

  11. Robyn, I know how you feel.

    Meanwhile, we had to disable the one outside the kitchen because it beeped whenever it started cooking... and for some annoying reason, they're all connected so they ALL go off when one detects smoke...

  12. I agree 100%. One time I was so angry with mine that I took it down, wrapped it in a blanket, and put it in my car until management replaced the battery. I would've rather died in a fire than had to listen to the beeping for a week.


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