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Smoke Alarms Fail in a Third of House Fires

Posted on 06 of December 2019


Smoke Alarms Fail in a Third of House Fires

BBC News reported on the 30th November that in more than a third of the house fires that occurred in England last year the smoke alarms failed and did not go off.

The article stated that of the 29,586 house fires attended to in England between 1 April 2018 and 21 March 2019 22,475 homes were fitted with a smoke alarm. Firefighters attended more than 7,500 fires in homes with battery-powered alarms in 2018, but 38% failed to alert the residents of any danger. This highlights how important it is to test your smoke alarm as an alert could save lives and reduce the damage caused by enabling a faster response.

Of the 2,899 houses where the smoke alarm failed to sound, 45% of the failures were caused by incorrect positioning and 20% of the failures were caused by missing or faulty batteries. These figures suggest that 1 in 10 households do not have a working smoke alarm. A quick readjustment or simply replacing batteries when necessary is often considered an annoyance but could mean the difference between a safe evacuation and a tragedy.

TestSmokeAlarmsIt has been found that 22% of people never test their smoke alarm despite the fact it could save your life. It is very important to test your smoke alarm at least once a month, especially with the festive period descending upon us. There is an increased fire risk from decorations, candles, trees and fairy lights with more people using heaters and cooking hot food so a smoke alarm could be imperative to staying safe this December.

The Local Government Association (LGA) also advises households to install more than one smoke alarm in their homes to avoid any potential failures and asked the public to check the alarms of family members who are less able to do so.

Simple fire protection measures such as smoke alarms are regularly overlooked or ignored and often only come into consideration when an incident has already occurred. Taking 5 minutes of your time at recommended intervals to maintain your alarms is a small price to pay to keep yourself and your family safe.

A quick guide to maintaining your smoke alarm:

  • Test your smoke alarm when the clocks are changed

  • Vacuum it gently using the soft brush attachment to remove dust from the sensors

  • Change the battery at least once a year or when it is low, whichever is soonest (unless it is a sealed battery alarm)

  • Replace the alarm after 10 years (or as per the manufacturers recommendations) to prevent failures caused by degradation of the sensor.

Always follow the recommendations for the exact make and model of alarm you have installed, as these maintenance tips can vary.

Original Source: BBC

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