LIVING & LIFESTYLE

Monday, 01 August 2016

Smoke Alarms Frequently Asked Questions

We all fear the dangers posted by fire occurring in our home - not only because of possible Smoke-alarmdamage to our property, but also for the safety of ourselves and our loved ones. 

One of the most important ways you can protect your home is by having properly installed and fully-functioning smoke alarms. Yet half of all house fires have no working smoke alarms in place*.

Here we answer some of the commonly asked questions about smoke-alarm safety.

How many smoke alarms should a standard two-story house contain? 

There should be a minimum of one smoke alarm on every level of your home. They are cheap, easy to install and are available from DIY stores, electrical shops and most high street supermarkets. You can have alarms installed which are linked, so that when one alarm detects a fire they all go off together. This is useful if you live in a large house or over several levels. 

How often should you test and maintain your smoke alarm?

You should test the batteries in your smoke alarm every week and change them every year; we recommend choosing a birthday, anniversary or public holiday as a reminder. A lot of people forget to test the batteries, so longer life batteries are better. An alarm with ten-year batteries is the best option. Try to clean out dust and spider’s webs with a vacuum extension at least twice a year.

Is there an optimum space in the house for installing a smoke alarm? 

Don’t put alarms in or near kitchens or bathrooms where smoke or steam can set them off by accident. The ideal position is on the ceiling, in the middle of a room, or on the hallway and landing, so you can hear the alarm throughout your home.

Is there any alternative to a smoke alarm if you're hard of hearing? 

Strobe light and vibrating pad alarms are available for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. You can find out more about how to get hold of these by contacting the Royal National Institute for Deaf People Information Line on 0808 808 0123

What steps should I take to plan a fire escape route? 

The best route of escape in case of a fire is usually the normal way in and out of your home. Should this be blocked, make sure you have a second route planned and that everyone knows where it is. Take the time to practice your escape plan to ensure you know exactly what to do if the moment comes. Ensure all exits are kept clear before you go to bed, don’t let debris or rubbish build up around your back door, for example. For security, door and window keys should not be left in the locks but make sure they are kept within reach and somewhere everyone can find them – a bedside cabinet is probably ideal.

What should I do if I can't fit a smoke alarm myself?

If you’re not confident fitting your smoke alarm yourself, or if you are unable to do so for any reason, your local fire service will be happy to install it for you. Simply contact your local fire and rescue service for help. You can find contact details in your local directory or online at the Fire Rescue website.

 

*Source: Fire and Rescue Statistics, GB, 2013 to 2014

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