How often have you heard a news report which stated, “There were no working smoke alarms” following a house fire where lives were lost?
So sad, but also avoidable!
Even if your smoke alarms are cheap and pretty basic, they can definitely be lifesavers.
Why Do It?
Electronic devices are not infallible. Batteries die, and other parts of the smoke alarm can wear out over time. Testing them regularly and replacing batteries (or the entire device) is one way to help ensure your family stays safe should there be a fire in your home.
How Many Do You Need?
The more alarms you have, the safer you’ll be. As a minimum, you should have one on each floor. However, if you have only one alarm and two floors, put it somewhere you’ll be able to hear it when you’re asleep.
If you have a TV or other large electrical appliance (such as a computer) in any of the bedrooms, you should fit a smoke alarm there too.
If you rent a property and not sure about the regulations, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services has provided a PDF for you.
Testing Your Smoke Alarms
You should test your smoke alarms once a month to make sure they’re working.
To test your smoke alarms:
1. Check that the light on the cover flashes. It should flash at least once every 60 seconds.
2. Press and hold the ‘test’ button on the face of the smoke alarm until the alarm sounds, and then release it. The smoke alarm will stop sounding when the ‘test’ button is released. The alarm will then ‘chirp’ at regular intervals until the battery has recharged again. If the property has more than one alarm, the other alarms should also sound (as interconnected alarms are being installed).
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to test each smoke alarm installed in the property.
If you press the ‘test’ button and it doesn’t make a beeping sound or activate all the alarms in the property, contact your local maintenance call centre or an electrical contractor like Allyn White Electrical.
Clean your alarm every 6 months by:
• vacuuming lightly to remove dust, insects and cobwebs from the alarm surface
• wiping the alarm cover with a clean, damp (not wet) cloth
• drying the alarm cover with a clean, lint-free cloth.
You don’t need to replace the battery in your smoke alarms.
Most smoke alarms are hardwired into your power supply. They also have a back-up lithium battery with a 10-year lifespan.
There are two main types of smoke alarms:
Battery-powered: This type can be susceptible to defective or worn-out batteries. Monthly testing is critical. Never put old batteries into your smoke alarms.
Hardwired: These alarms are powered by your home’s electrical system, but they usually have backup batteries so the device can remain operational in a power outage. Hardwired smoke alarms still require monthly testing to help ensure that both batteries and parts are functioning properly.
Keeping Your Smoke Alarms Safe
To make sure your alarm always works well, don’t:
• tamper with or open your alarm, as this could cause an electrical shock
• try to remove or replace batteries in your alarm
• allow paint, water or dust to contaminate your alarm
• spray aerosols or using solvents near your alarm.
Installing smoke alarms can be a great way to help keep your family safe, but assuming they are working may lead to a dangerous situation. Taking a few minutes to check them regularly can help ensure they’re working properly.
If you have ANY reason to believe your smoke alarms are going bad, don’t hesitate to replace them immediately.
As an electrical contractor, Allyn White Electrical does all kinds of industrial and commercial electrical installations and repairs as well as home electrical services and emergency electrical repairs. We are a small family-owned and run business with over 40+ years’ experience so please call us on 0416235641. We are here to help.
sources: qld.gov.au, allstate.com, smokealarmed.com.au, dsfire.gov.uk