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Smoke alarms: testing is not enough

We check our smoke alarm regularly – and it gives us a reassuring beep every time we press the button. Then last week, someone in the house (not me!) left the grill on. Smoke started billowing out and it certainly reached the alarm – which wasn’t activated. In short, it wasn’t working and we’ve got to replace it.

So I was very interested to read that fire brigades are now issuing advice on this very subject: it’s not enough to simply test if an alarm is working by pressing the button. This will only confirm that the power source is functioning – which is what was happening with our alarm. They need to be replaced after a certain time.

Apparently 90 per cent of homes in the UK now have smoke alarms, but only a third of householders who have experienced fires were alerted to this by their alarms. In the event of a fire, there are all sorts of reasons why it might not be activated including how old the alarm is, how many you have in the house and where they are positioned. So here are five smoke alarm top tips, courtesy of the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service:

  • Install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home.
  • The ideal position is on the ceiling, in the middle of a room or on a hallway or landing.
  • Consider fitting additional alarms in other rooms where there are electrical appliances and near sleeping areas.
  • Don’t put alarms in or near kitchens and bathrooms where smoke or steam can set them off by accident.

Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years.

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