BEEP! (you might die) BEEP!

As one of the many people walking the Earth who has a goal of continuing to walk the Earth as long as I can, self preservation is a fairly big thing for me.  Anything that helps me continue to get up each morning and live life is a pretty good thing.  These can include food, water, sunlight, sleep, oxygen…ah yes, oxygen.  That’s a good thing to have in the air.  But carbon monoxide?  Not so much.  So imagine the delight of the world when carbon monoxide detectors were invented…just another tool to keep on keepin’ on.

A couple of things about carbon monoxide: First, you can’t smell it.  When it’s there, you’ve got NO idea.  Second, if it makes up more than 1% of the air around you, you’re looking at 5 minutes TOPS before it’s lights out for good.  Perfect!  I needed something else to keep me up worried at night…

So it’s obviously a GREAT idea to have detectors in your house, and also at work, which is where our story takes place.  We picked up a couple of new alarms for the office, and it’ll be nice to know that while I’m killing my brain cells at my desk thanks to stress headaches, I won’t be getting any help from our good friend CO.  But unfortunately, installing these detectors gave the opposite feeling of safety.

Setting these things up seemed simple enough: Put the battery in the back for a power backup, then plug them in the wall and you’re good to go.  It can’t get any easier than that, right?  Of course, it’s a good idea to test everything to make sure it’s working the way it’s supposed to, so that’s what we did.  One upstairs, one downstairs, battery, plug, walk away.  And for about 3 minutes, everything seemed fine.  Then, the alarm upstairs announced it’s presense…


On a good note, it was LOUD.  So we knew that it would get our attention.  But why was it making that noise?  We took it down, read the back, and saw a beep like that meant something was wrong with it.  We figured that it was a power supply issue (the outlet on the wall might not be the best), so we plugged it in somewhere else, and it seemed to work.  Then, a minute later…

“beep beep beep beep” (5 seconds) “BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP”

This was the one from downstairs.  4 quick beeps, pause, 4 quick beeps.  And while we walked down to check it out, we heard it again.  “beep beep beep beep” (5 seconds) “BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP.” So once we took THAT one out of the wall, we checked to see what THAT meant…

“OK.  I’m sure it’s NOTHING.  We probably just have to hit a button, it’s probably doing a test or something right?  Plug it back in, see what it does…”


“Oh good, it was nothi-”

“beep beep beep beep” (5 seconds) “BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP”

At this point the slightest bit of “Are you serious?” started to creep in.  I mean, what were the odds that after seven plus years of walking around here that the MOMENT we tried these new detectors out a large cloud of CO decided to waft over us?  So we started to try different places in the buiding…how about this hallway?

“beep beep beep beep” (5 seconds) “BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP”

“What about the room over here?”

“beep beep beep beep” (5 seconds) “BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP”

“What if we take the battery out and try it again?”



With enough cause for concern, we gathered up the new alarms and went into the boardroom to figure it out.  After briefly browsing the manual and placing a precautionary call to the boss just to say “Hey, this is happening, we don’t think it’s anything big, but we’ll call you back if we’re not dead”, we tried it again.  This time, the one downstairs worked like a charm.  Nice solid green power light, no beeping, nothing.  Walking back upstairs however…

“beep beep beep beep” (5 seconds) “BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP”

This is where my brain said “NO.  THIS ISN’T RIGHT.  There HAS to be a reason this is happening that ISN’T related to our impending doom.”  So I blocked out the outside world, starting fine-tooth-combing the manual, and found THIS wonderful note:

THANK GOD.  That’s the initial reaction.  The follow up reaction wasn’t as much relief as confusion and anger: “Wait, so the test sounds and the alarm sounds are IDENTICAL?!?!”

I can understand the manufacturer wants to make sure we know what the alarm sounds like if there’s a problem.  4 beeps, quick pause, 4 beeps, and so on.  Do you know how I know that?  BECAUSE IT’S WRITTEN IN THE MANUAL.  WHY, I ask, WOULD YOU MAKE IT THE SAME AS THE TEST SOUNDS?!?!  Why not make the test have THREE beeps, quick pause, 3 beeps?  That way we’ll know that it’s working, and NOT HAVE A SLIGHT CONCERN THAT THE MOMENT WE TURN IT ON WE DISCOVER WE’VE BEEN WORKING IN A GIANT MUFFLER.

I’m sorry.  I’m alright now.  After resetting BOTH alarms, they’ve been sitting quietly in their new homes, green power button solidly glowing, not a peep or a beep between them.  And hopefully they both stay that way.  Because just thinking we were standing in a cloud of CO may have taken a minute or two off my life anyway.


P.S. As a slightly related bonus, today’s post reminded me of this moment on The Simpsons.  Poor quality video, high quality joke.  I have to get me one of those.



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