In most states this weekend, Australians will be changing their clocks with the end of daylight saving. It’s a sign that summer has come to an end and we’re moving towards winter.
In the cooler winter months, using heaters, fires and candles to keep us warm increases the risk of house fires. Therefore, it’s the best time to check the smoke alarms in your home, but there’s more to fire protection than just a new smoke alarm battery.
It’s time to change your mindset on home fire safety.
Smoke alarm maintenance
All smoke alarms have batteries, and those with replaceable ones must have them changed every year – even hard-wired, mains-powered smoke alarms use a battery so they continue to give you protection when the power goes out. While you’re changing your clocks this weekend, also change your smoke alarm batteries with fresh new ones to keep them energized for the year ahead. Don’t wait until the low-battery warning chime starts; we all know that happens when we’re trying to sleep!
While you have the step ladder out to change those batteries, also give them an essential clean. Use a duster or your vacuum cleaner’s dusting brush to dust-off and suck-up the dust that can lessen the effectiveness of your alarm. If it can’t detect smoke as effectively, it can’t give you the most warning if there is a fire.
Every week, test your smoke alarm to see if it is actually working. All Family-First smoke alarms have a convenient test button. While doing the cleaning, use a broom handle to press the test button for a few seconds, and let the alarm sound for a short while.
Check your alarm’s expiry
Changing the battery in your smoke alarm is one thing, but continuing to use an alarm that has expired can be as bad as not having a battery in one at all.
All smoke alarms have a limited lifespan of about 10 years. Check yours to see if it has expired, or is about to expire. All Family-First smoke alarms (except the lithium battery model) have a date of manufacture printed on them. If yours have 2004 or earlier on them, it’s definitely time for new ones!
Do you have enough alarms?
The layout of your house determines how many smoke alarms you need, and where. At a minimum, have alarms in the hallway outside of the bedrooms. If your house has more than one level, you should have at least one alarm on each. Additional alarms could provide you with extra warning, so is there a need for another alarm somewhere in your home? Take a look at our Home Safety System guide.
Beware of carbon monoxide – the silent killer
Carbon monoxide has been called the ‘silent killer’ because it is a gas that is colourless, tasteless and odourless, and therefore virtually undetectable. Those being poisoned by it are usually not aware of it, and the effect doesn’t have to be lethal. The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is with homes that have space heaters, open-flame fires, indoor water heaters, blocked chimneys, or running a car inside an enclosed garage.
A carbon monoxide alarm isn’t a smoke alarm, and vice-versa. If you have an item in your home that gives you the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, it’s wise to buy a carbon monoxide alarm and place it near (not immediately close to) such a source. How about in the garage to protect yourself against accidental poisoning from your car?
Additional protection to fight small fires
When you’re cooking, fires can start unexpectedly in a number of ways. Having resources available to put out a fire as it starts, while you’re watching it, can help prevent it from turning into something big and nasty.
Family-First offers a range of fire blankets and extinguishers, and they are ideal to have in the kitchen. Using a fire blanket can stop a fire from damaging any part of your home if it’s within a pot or pan, while an extinguisher can stop a smaller fire from spreading and causing a disaster.
Check-out our range of fire extinguishers and fire blankets to see how you can add another line of defence to keep your home safe. And don’t forget a fire blanket for your BBQ too, because fat and flames is a bad combination.
Know how to get out and where to go
Creating an escape plan is great fire readiness. Thick smoke can be very disorientating, so while you may think you know how to get about your home in the dark, it’s much harder when it is full of smoke that may cause you to panic.
A family activity could be to create a diagram of each level of your house and plan escape routes with a meeting point – just like a fire drill at work. Try to plan two escape routes for every room, because if there is a fire blocking one way out, you’ll need to know another way to go.
More fire safety planning
For more fire planning advice, visit the websites of authorities in your area:
- ACT Emergency Services Agency
- Country Fire Authority (CFA)
- Department of Fire and Emergency Services
- Fire and Rescue NSW
- Metropolitan Fire Board (MFB)
- NSW Rural Fire Service
- Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service
- Rural Fire Service Queensland
- Queensland Fire and Rescue Service
- South Australian Country Fire Service
- South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service
- Tasmania Fire Service