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Home » News & Events » 2020 » September » Make sure your home alarms are up to date and test them regularly, says HWFRS during Home Safety Week.

Make sure your home alarms are up to date and test them regularly, says HWFRS during Home Safety Week.

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Home Safety Week, from 28 September to 4 October 2020, starts today and Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to make sure their home alarms are up to date and regularly tested.

Backed by the National Fire Chiefs Council, the week encourages people to assess the needs of their homes and ensure they have adequate alarms for their needs.

Research shows that only 26 per cent of households with fire alarms test them on a monthly basis, and you were around eight times more likely to die in a fire in the year 2018/19 if you did not have any working smoke alarms.

Figures also show that in 20% of accidental dwelling fires in the UK, smoke alarms fail to activate. The most common reason was because the fire was outside the alarm's range.

Most people know a working smoke alarm can save lives by providing extra vital seconds to escape a house fire, but one smoke alarm may not be enough to provide you with the best chance of escaping a fire in your home, according to the latest fire statistics.

Despite the majority of homes (about 95%) having at least one working smoke alarm, smoke alarms often fail to activate because the fire is outside their range, and smoke alarms only alert householders to just one in three fires in the home, in England.

Alarms save lives and in the event of a fire or carbon monoxide (CO) incident they can provide precious time to escape.

For these reasons, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is encouraging residents across the two counties to think about the smoke alarms in their home, ensuring the whole home is covered.

Smoke alarms should be installed in the rooms used most, as these are where a fire is most likely to start.

Residents also need to think about CO (Carbon Monoxide) alarms. Only around 15% of households have CO alarms.

CO is a highly poisonous gas, which you cannot see, taste or smell, so fire services recommend that any room with a fuel burning appliance such as an open fire, wood burning stove or gas appliance such as a boiler or cooker should also have a working CO alarm fitted.

Where people need help and advice, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is very happy to assist with specific advice and, if required, fit smoke detection.

Group Commander Stuart Crebbin of the HWFRS Community Risk department said: “There were almost 200 fire-related deaths in the home in the year ending March 2020.

“We all need to make sure that we have enough smoke alarms in our homes and that they are in the right places. If your whole home isn’t covered, you could be leaving it to chance and, in a fire, you might not get that early warning that you need.

“The vast majority of us now have at least one working smoke alarm in our home, but early detection and warning is vital to reduce the devastation a fire can cause.

“That’s why it’s essential to have sufficient smoke alarms and that they are in the right places. That will give them the best chance of alerting you and family to a fire or CO gas leak.”

He added: “You should make sure you have at least one working smoke alarm on every level of your home, preferably in hallways and landings. Placing smoke alarms near sleeping areas and in rooms where there are electrical appliances could give you invaluable extra seconds to get out.

“We also need to remember that they don’t last forever. The power might work, but the mechanism deteriorates over time, so whether they are battery operated or wired to the mains, they should be replaced every ten years.”

Bear in mind these smoke alarm ‘top tips’, says HWFRS:

  • install a 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 - install a heat alarm in your kitchen instead
  • Ten-year sealed battery smoke alarms are the best option. Although a bit more expensive, you save on the cost of replacing batteries.
  • Ensure all appliances are installed and maintained correctly by registered and suitably qualified tradespeople
  • replace your smoke alarms every ten years
  • If you can, interlink alarms
  • test your smoke alarms monthly

Other vital points to remember:

  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in all rooms where there is fuel burning appliance
  • Whatever happens, never remove the batteries in your smoke alarms unless you are replacing them. Some require new batteries every year.
  • Plan and practise an escape route and make sure that everyone in your home knows it.
  • In the event of a fire, get out, stay out and call 999
  • Lastly, wherever you’re reading this, test your smoke alarms now or when you get home

GC Crebbin added: “Carers and people who keep an eye out for friends and relatives need to check that these homes have enough smoke alarms in the right places, too.

“Finally, if you want to see if you would qualify for a free Home Fire Safety Check or would like any fire safety advice, please call 0800 032 1155.”