When your smoke detectors battery is dying, it chirps every 30 seconds to remind you to change it. I am in middle of my Friday night meal when this began. May I move the smoke detector to a area where it will not disturb me with a Shinui, or is there any other ideas that are Halachically permissible?
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Hinting to a non jew to help you (without telling them explicitly) could do the trick. Before you find someone to remove the battery place a chair underneath ceiling where the smoke alarm is. Although it could be considered dangerous to have a non-functioning smoke alarm over shabbat, it may be a temporary solution before you can replace the battery.
If its still light outside on friday night and you've brought shabbat in early, it may be permissible to ask someone explicitly, even a Jew who hasn't brought shabbat in yet (needs source?).
the orchot hashabat says (chelek 2, perek 23, footnote 46): "...the only heter of hinting [to a non Jew] is by means of removing a thing which is a nuisance, like extinguishing a candle [when trying to sleep], or in a case whereby he is only increasing benefit e.g. hinting for him to add an additional candle, for in these cases there is no issue of increasing benefit from a non Jew's melacha... this is only permitted by 'derech sippur', not directly asking them" (my paraphrasing).
By extrapolation one could be allowed to hint to a non Jew to remove the battery from something that is being a nuisance, like a dying smoke alarm. This can not be via a direct command. Something like "hello, isn't that noise annoying" would be an example.
Someone I know, who knows halacha, suggested to me tentatively that a smoke detector is movable (it is a keli shem'lachto l'heter or, at worst, a keli shem'lachto l'isur, still movable under the circumstances) and that one could remove it from the wall (if it's not screwed in, as many are not) and hide it in a room where it will not be heard. He was unwilling to recommend I rely on this suggestion, but saw no reason it should be incorrect. As always, consult your own rabbi for a final ruling.
I'm not observant, but I live in a NY suburb and the tragic loss of seven children and the anguish of their father while their mother and an eighth child struggle for their lives has been the lead story on the news since Saturday morning. According to news reports, the home had no functioning smoke detectors. Apparently the fire was started by a hot plate that had been left on for Shabbat.
I did a search to see whether smoke alarms themselves somehow violate Shabbat when I found this site. Many of the responses to this predicament involve moving or covering the offending smoke alarm rendering it useless. Unless it is one of many smoke detectors in the home (which, by rights, it should be) this could be a deadly mistake. From what I've read in the manuals of my own detectors, the chirping smoke alarm continues to function as a smoke alarm for a period of time while it reminds you to change the battery. If you have no alternative then you must simply live with the annoying chirping until after Shabbat.
If this is impossible, then find a way to reconcile your sabbath observance with the need to preserve life and change the battery anyway. Surely saving life takes precedence over any Jewish law.
The best "solution" is to prevent this from even happening in the first place. Change the batteries twice a year. They used to say when you change the clocks but now that we have "standard time" only 4 months and daylight time for 8 perhaps a different schedule makes sense. Perhaps before Passover (when looking for Chametz you can change the battery) and then again before Succos as part of one of that holiday's rituals? Better yet, if you can afford it, replace your smoke alarms with the new type that have sealed 10-year batteries and are either hard-wired or communicate wirelessly so one sounding will sound all of them.
Do it in memory of the Sassoon family of Brooklyn, New York. Nobody should have to suffer their anguish because they chose to observe a religious ritual. Please don't be offended by a non-observant suggestion. It's just so hard to see so much suffering.
Here's what you do:
You get a clean trash can or bucket large enough to fit over the smoke detector. Line the bottom of it (and sides if possible) with cloth/blankets whatever (but not so much that the cloth touches the detector and possibly presses the button).
Then scavenge the house for barrels, boxes, laundry baskets, whatever, and some books. Next have someone hold the bucket over the detector and build a huge stack of those items under the bucket - use books for those last few inches to press the bucket tightly against the ceiling. Making it tight seals in the sound, and also prevents the tower from tipping.
Pro tip: Without the cloth, this also works for lights that were turned on by mistake - but make sure it's either a florescent bulb (which don't get very hot), or use a very large bucket so the bucket doesn't get too hot. (I would wait 20 minutes, then feel the bucket to make sure it's OK.)