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Daylight saving is a timely reminder to check household smoke alarms

MORE daylight and warmer weather is upon us with the onset of spring, and clocks in most parts of Australia are soon to move forward with the beginning od daylight saving just over a week away.

As we adjust our clocks it is also customary to check our smoke alarms at the same time.

Smoke alarms are an essential safety measure that form part of every home’s defence plan in case of fire. The Metropolitan Fire Brigade in Melbourne asserts that occupants are four times more likely to die in a house fire if there are no active smoke alarms.

Furthermore, the danger of non-working smoke alarms is made worse when occupants are asleep because our ability to smell, and therefore detect smoke, is greatly diminished.

Countless times the media has reported on tragic deaths where occupants have died while sleeping because they were not alerted to a house fire.

When daylight saving begins on Sunday 6 October 2019, take the timely opportunity to check, clean and test all the smoke alarms in your home. States that do not observe daylight saving should also participate as this matter is just as relevant to them.

How can I check to see if my smoke alarm is working?

Every smoke alarm has a test button. When pressed for a few seconds the alarm should sound.

Usually a smoke alarm battery will last for one year if it is removable. If you haven’t changed the batteries in your smoke alarms in the last year or so, then replace them.

After changing the battery, press the test button and make sure it functions and works well. You may need to connect your smoke alarm to its bracket before testing as this can engage the battery by making sure the alarm is affixed properly.

If the smoke alarm does not sound correctly when tested after the battery has been replaced, the smoke alarm should be replaced. Alarms should also be replaced if their age has passed 10 years.

Other additional preventive maintenance involves cleaning your smoke alarms as part of your regular household cleaning schedule, using a duster or vacuum reduce dust that can sometimes cause false alarms, and spraying around the alarm with insect repellent surface spray.

How else can I minimise the risk of a house fire?

To minimise the risk of a house fire, keep all rooms in the home clutter-free, vacuum around electrical appliances, never leave electrical equipment to charge on soft furnishing such as blankets and pillows, replace any electrical appliances that have frayed cabling, and keep curtains and clothes away from heating appliances. Also keep exit paths clear for a swift escape should a fire occur.

A fire blanket and extinguisher in your kitchen are additional must-haves to help fight a fire should one develops, before it becomes out of control and causes a lot more damage.

More information on fire safety is in the Family First website.