Beep, beep, beep! Help! It’s an alarming time of year, and the Rooney Bin is being held hostage by a hi-tech security system. If hurricanes, ghosts and goblins don’t get you, a dead battery could be your undoing.

“The most disturbing sound in the world comes from the alarm clock at 5:30 a.m.,” author Munia Khan wrote.

I beg to differ. Try a smoke detector going off at 2 a.m. A couple of weeks ago my spouse the Binmeister and I were awakened by a persistent chirping noise. I groaned and crawled out of bed to try to figure out which smoke detector needed attention, while a sleepy grumpy Binmeister chirped loudly (to put it nicely) as he was tasked with climbing a ladder to change the battery. I found the correct size cell, but in his semi-somulent state he accidentally pushed the test button when twisting off the alarm cover. It went from an annoying beep to a shrieking fire alarm, followed by the security company calling to see if we needed help. No kidding!

At 4 a.m. two weeks later, a different triple beep rotated from alarm keypad to keypad throughout the house. I’ve got this one, I thought, as I checked the closest keypad to see which window or door sensor needed a new battery. I have a drawer filled with AA’s, AAA’s, C’s, D’s, 9 volts and other oddities as well as spares made specifically for door alarms, or so I thought. Changing the battery didn’t stop the noise. Was it dead or the wrong kind? We were doomed to beep until morning, when I could call the security company.

Folks have been making batteries since ancient times. The earliest known were “Baghdad Batteries” from Mesopotamia, a set of ancient terracotta jars containing sheets of copper rolled around an iron bar. They weren’t easy to store in a household junk drawer. Other 19th century battery inventors were Alessandro Volta, who made the Voltaic Pile, and Frenchman Gaston Plante, who made the first rechargeable battery. Solar cells were invented in 1954.

After a hurricane a couple of years ago, a friend living on Florida’s west coast emailed about her storm preparations. “All we needed were AA batteries,” she said. “Everything runs on AAs, but ‘someone’ used them. Being the battery police is a thankless job.” She directed her ‘someone’ to go to the store to get AA batteries, and he returned with “a sack of peanuts, a pack of D-cell batteries and an enormous vase.” A vase? Did he plan to make Baghdad batteries?

I called the alarm security folks, and they told me to go to CVS to buy an obscure, highly-expensive battery. I couldn’t find the prescribed cell. Then a new ding-dong started persistently chiming. They turned the entire system off remotely and scheduled service for two weeks out, leaving the Rooney Bin without protection at this spectral time of year. We contemplated getting one of those doorbell things that let you remotely threaten burglars claiming to be estimating yard work before breaking into your home; I expect the doorbell gadget uses batteries too. Sigh! It could be worse. I just heard the Energizer Bunny was arrested. He was charged with battery!