The Smoke Detector has Gone Off: Dinner is Served

Hello everyone:

Smoke Detectors that have Detected Smoke: Dinner is Served

Sometimes smoke detectors signal their displeasure by going off. This can mean several things: your house is on fire, your candles are burning down, or your home’s heating system is burning off dust because you just switched it from air conditioning to heat.

It could also mean that dinner is ready.  At my house, it is usually the latter. If you have not recently changed over from air conditioning to heat and you aren’t cooking or burning candles, GET OUT OF THE HOUSE AND CALL 911.

[Note: It is good to have your HVAC system checked regularly; this can prevent the heart-stopping sound that occurs when your detector goes off unexpectedly.]

Candle safety is also vitally important. Many folks are changing to the fake-flame candles, but others still prefer to have an open flame. (I find that a candle can cover up the smell of burning meals; my ex-hubby used to say that he could tell in advance what dinner would be like by the size of the candle burning when he got home from work. If the big one was going, he would offer to take me out to eat.)

If you use old-fashioned candles, keep the wicks trimmed to ¼ inch, do not keep them burning more hours than their width in diameter, and never, ever leave them burning unattended.

When a smoke detector goes off due to burning food (but without a fire), there are several ways to stop the alarm. One is to wave paper near the detector, until the noise stops.

Please note that you may also need to open the windows and doors and turn on a fan. You can also take the detector down and throw it in the yard (this is my sister-in-law’s preferred approach).

Please resist the temptation to hit the detector with a hammer. While this may work short-term, the end result will be the sudden need to replace the now-destroyed detector. It will, however, solve your immediate problem.  Unless, of course, your detector is wired into the house, as I mentioned earlier.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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