Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Have you tested your smoke alarm recently?

Once again we find it is Tuesday and for the most of us it is just another day in the office. However, there is one amazing thing you can do today that could save the life of you, your family or a loved one and it will only take seconds out of your day!

Press the button!

You've got it! Yes testing every smoke alarm in your home is imperative to ensure it will work in the event of a real fire. It is only when you need them the most that you will rely on them to keep you safe.

October is a key month to be testing your smoke alarm – this is because many people switch on their heating this month. Households which have electric heaters will be alerted to a problem very quickly with a working smoke alarm – as we found in the office here at Fulcher Edwards this week when we switched on the heating! The dust that had built up in there over the Summer months activated the smoke alarm even though there was no visible problem from the heater. It was good peace of mind to know that we were alerted to a potential problem when otherwise our backs would have been turned!

It is so easy for small items to find their way through the vents of electrical heaters – small children can 'post' tiny objects through the gaps and even general dust – especially if the heater has not been used for some time can cause burning or even fire if the build up is great.

Important information for tenants

If you rent your home, it is now a legal requirement for landlords to supply and fit a working smoke alarm on every floor of your property. This law was enforced on the 1st October 2015 in an effort to reduce the number of tenants injured or killed as a result of house fire after research revealed that tenants in the private housing sector were much more likely to die in a house fire when compared to other housing sectors such as home owners or local authority housing.

Landlords should also supply each of their properties with a working CO detector in houses where appliances which could leak carbon monoxide are located. Such appliances include gas boilers, open fires and any solid fuel appliance such as a log burner.

It still remains the tenants responsibility to ensure the alarms continue to work by testing them regularly – ideally every week.

Testing your smoke alarm effectively

People who don't test their alarm regularly tend to rely on 'near misses' such as burnt toast and smoky ovens. However, for a smoke alarm to be relied on fully, it needs to be tested weekly by pressing the T or Test button which is indicated on the smoke alarm itself. Holding the button in for a couple of seconds will emit a high pitched beep so you know it is working.

If you can't reach your smoke alarm, using the end of a broom handle or other long object will be fine. Try to avoid standing on chairs or other furnishings as this could be dangerous. Always test from ground level.

All smoke alarms whether battery or mains powered need to be tested weekly to ensure they are working correctly.

What should you do if your alarm is not working properly or at all

As fire alarm specialists in South East London, we install and maintain fire alarm systems in homes and businesses in and around London. For the ultimate reliability, it is a good choice to have mains powered smoke alarms fitted in your property. This means you will not be relying on battery power alone to stay protected against house fire.

However any smoke alarm is better than no smoke alarm and most battery alarms now have a life expectancy of up to 10 years.

If you press the test button and the alarm emits no sound you need to take action asap. If your alarm is mains powered, contact a fire alarm specialist or your local electrician who can investigate and put right the problem. Never try to attempt to repair a mains powered smoke alarm yourself.

For battery alarms, it may be that the battery needs replacing. If the fire alarms come as all it one sealed units then the whole fire alarm will need replacing. All in one fire alarm units are now very common as it prevents the batteries from being removed intentionally and not being replaced.  

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