Most Australians die in residential fires than in any natural calamities combined. According to Macquarie University in Sydney, more than 50 individuals die each year from household fires. The sad fact is that many of these deaths are preventable with the help of photoelectric smoke alarms.
The Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Council is working to create a national Preventable Fire Fatalities Strategy, to achieve zero fire fatality. However, each household can contribute to this aim by installing a good fire alarm system throughout their house, especially in their bedrooms and living rooms. It is because these two rooms are where fires most commonly occur.
Smoke alarms are your first line of defence against fires. It can also reduce the damage whenever a fire does occur. A properly installed and maintained smoke alarm will alert you at the first whiff of smoke. It can also reduce the risk of fatality by half.
Below are the tips for selecting, installing, and maintaining smoke alarms.
Research before choosing
Investing in a good smoke alarm is a good idea. However, before you buy one, you should do some research. Many models, brands, and price points are available, so you need to know which one best meets your needs and is within your budget.
Buy for every home level
The number of smoke alarms you buy will depend on the layout of your house. At a minimum, each level of the house should have one smoke alarm. Ideally, each bedroom and one outside the sleeping space should have an alarm. Your living space and kitchen should also have one each. Don’t forget to add an alarm in your basement and attic.
Install your alarm immediately after you buy it. You do not want to spend another night without the protection of your detector.
To install your smoke alarm, here’s what you should do:
- Place the alarm in the centre of the room, on a flat wall or ceiling. If it is a wall-mounted alarm, make sure that it is 12 inches lower than the ceiling.
- Read and follow the instructions that come with the device carefully. Each fire alarm has its set-up guide.
- If you are not comfortable installing the smoke alarm yourself, find a professional to help you out.
Test your smoke alarm
After installing your smoke alarm, you should test it immediately with everyone in the house. To do this, you only need to press the test button of each device individually. Ensure that every person in your household can recognise the alarm’s sound. It would be good if you also took this time to outline your exit routes and do a fire drill.
You also need to test your alarm monthly. There are alarms that self-test. However, it is better if you manually test your alarms yourself. Running a test is easy. You only have to push the test button. Ensure that your alarm’s sounds are at the optimal volume.
Clean and replace the batteries yearly
Cleaning your fire alarm is easy. First, you have to lightly dust it or wipe it with a rug. However, it would be best if you do a yearly deep clean. To do this, you need to remove the alarm from the power source and remove the casing. Next, clean the dust and dirt gathered inside with a vacuum or a compressed air can and a clean cloth.
You should also remember to change your batteries regularly if it runs on batteries. Set a date for when you will change it so you won’t forget.
To prevent fires in your house, take time to install photoelectric smoke alarms. You and your family’s safety must be your number one concern.