Saving Lives: The Importance of Checking Your Smoke Alarms

November 27, 2013 | Boilers/Agas/Rayburns

This is a guest article written for the BoilerJuice Home Heating Oil Blog by AAI Security Systems.

With so many advances in fire safety and security technology in recent years, it’s now easier than ever to protect your home from the dangers of fire. With an array of smoke detectors and fire alarms available, ensuring that your property has one installed that most suits the needs of the premises is simple.

However advanced the units can now be, smoke detectors still need checking on a regular basis to make sure that they remain fully operational, or else the safety of the people and possessions in your home or business may be severely compromised.

Just as carbon monoxide alarms are crucial for detecting hazardous fumes from boilers, smoke detectors are the first line of defence against potentially fatal fires. The Fire Kills campaign suggests checking your alarms when the time comes to change your clocks – although this is merely a way to help you remember, so even if you have missed this date your smoke detectors should still be tested.

The most likely reason your alarm might not be working is flat batteries. Every smoke detector has a simple push button method for checking this, with the alarm sounding when pressed. This is a test that should be performed every week, and if no sound is forthcoming, change your batteries. Most smoke alarms will emit a regular beeping sound if the batteries are running low. DO NOT ignore this: change the batteries immediately.

Sometimes, batteries may be missing, possibly pinched to put in a remote control and never replaced. This is highly dangerous and can potentially place lives in danger. In the last two years, 70% of people killed in house fires were not properly alerted by their smoke detector – a huge figure when you consider how simple checking your alarm can be.

The elderly are particularly at risk, accounting for half of the fatalities in this period, so testing the detectors of relatives and neighbours over 65 can go a long way to increasing their safety.

As well as weekly testing of the batteries, keeping the casing clear and unobstructed with a little dusting or vacuuming every 6 months will decrease the danger of smoke going undetected due to a blockage. During your annual check, it is good to get into the habit of changing your batteries completely, whether they are still working or not, to ensure maximum safety.

Smoke alarms are available from as little as £5, so not having one is inexcusable. If you find that yours keeps sounding when no fire is present, consider its positioning. Units too close to kitchen cooking areas or bathrooms may be set off by smoke or steam, and you may become accustomed to ignoring it which can be incredibly dangerous in the event of a real blaze.

It doesn’t matter how well positioned or advanced your smoke alarm may be – if its batteries are flat (or missing) it will be rendered completely useless. Checking your detector is such a simple process, but it’s one that can save lives.

Post written by AAI Security Systems who provide smoke detectors for commercial properties across the London area.


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