A Shower Cap Is the Antidote to a Persistent Smoke Detector

updated Nov 8, 2019
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Credit: Sarah Crowley

What’s more fun when you’re cooking an amazing dinner than having to bolt from the stove to frantically fan whatever you can grab in front of the smoke detector to stop its piercing wail? Or running around opening every door and window in a desperate attempt to just make it stop? Ugh!

My husband and I call our favorite homemade burgers our “Two-Alarm Burgers” because the first time we cooked up the dry-aged, freshly ground beef from our local butcher (yum!) the smoke detector went off. We forgot that it’s wired into a monitored security system and I didn’t answer the immediate phone call from a number I didn’t recognize because, HELLO, the blasted alarm was going off and the dogs were freaking out and my beautiful, rare burgers were burning! It was the security company calling to ask if we were OK. (Whoops.)  Sooooooo two fire trucks showed up. 

This is horrible. Not only is it embarrassing, but that is a massive waste of resources, and I can’t even contemplate how awful it would be if there were a legitimate need for a response like that and they were delayed because somebody was making burgers.  

We learned our lesson (and also wanted to avoid the steep fine that comes — as it rightly should — for any future false alarms) so, before making burgers from then on, we would open every window in the house and turns on fans. That still didn’t always stop the alarm (but we made sure to at least answer the phone so that the fire department didn’t come again!). 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Then I saw one of those little tricks on the internet that sounded too good to be true. All you need to do to keep the smoke detector from going off is cover it with a shower cap. What? Now that’s an epiphany. 

I couldn’t wait to test it out (where was all this zeal for experiments when I was barely passing science classes in college?). We hadn’t had these delicious burgers (I mean it, they are the best burger in town!) in a while, so for a midweek treat recently, we fired up the stove for burger night. But first, we covered the smoke detector in the hall outside the kitchen with a bright pink shower cap. Would it work? I gave it 50/50. These burgers leave a diner aroma in the whole house for about a day, so there is some major smoking going on.

And for the first time — ever — we were able to make the burgers without being interrupted to go fan the smoke detector. It totally worked! Of course immediately after dinner we removed the shower cap/burger smoke barrier. The detector is there for a purpose, and no way do I want to mess around with letting it do its job. So if you need a break from a wailing smoke detector when you cook — I’m thinking of all those holiday dinners coming up — be sure to remember to uncover it as soon as dinner’s done. (Okay, safety soapbox over.)

I have to tell you, this is a game-changer. Now if only I could figure out a way to also stop the burger smell from drifting upstairs, we might schedule burger night more often!