In September 2019, Macquarie University published a study that indicated more Australians perish in house fires each year than from other naturally occurring hazards such as floods, storms, and bushfires combined. These numbers are a harsh reality despite the fact that smoke alarm installation in all residential buildings, and buildings where people sleep, was written into law in NSW in 2006.
Most house fires arise from preventable causes, and while smoke alarms are an easy way to make sure you are alerted to any fires in your home, we’re going to list a few reasons why it’s important to subject them to regular testing.
Detecting Fires that Start Unnoticed
The majority of house fires don’t start with an explosion. A portable heater that catches a curtain or blanket, an overfilled lint filter in the clothes dryer, and even a candle left to burn unattended getting out of control would all cause fires that would start relatively silently. If you’re in another room or another part of your house, a fire could break out and you would not be aware of it. If your smoke alarms haven’t been inspected and are not in working order, it could have tragic consequences.
Fires can also start outside of your home. If you live in an apartment building, a fire could start in an adjacent dwelling. If, for some reason, your neighbour’s smoke alarms aren’t working, the only indication of the threat of a nearby fire would be smoke in your apartment. If you’re awake, you would likely notice the smell, but if you’re sleeping, you might not be alerted until it’s too late if your smoke alarms are also not working. Referring back to the study done by Macquarie University, most house fire tragedies occur at night.
Home Insurance Compliance
State regulations are subject to change and may be amended or updated on occasion, and you might not be aware that anything has changed. Regular inspection by a smoke alarm installation professional will ensure that your equipment is up to the current standards. This is especially important for insurance purposes, as your policy may not extend coverage for homes equipped with outdated or sub-par smoke alarms.
Life Expectancy of Smoke Alarms
Generally, smoke alarms have a fully functional period of about 10 years. Anything older than that, by law, must be replaced. This will guarantee you have smoke alarms installed that are in full working capacity and won’t be faulty or ineffective when it matters most. Check the expiration date printed on the back of your smoke alarms, and if your devices are too old, schedule a smoke alarm installation to make sure you get some up-to-date equipment.
How to Maintain Your Smoke Alarm System
According to Fire & Rescue, NSW, you should press the “test” button on your smoke alarms once a month to test that the battery and alarm are working. You should also clean your smoke alarms on a regular basis, at least every six months, by vacuuming any accumulation of dust on the device. Dust can prevent airborne smoke particles from entering the device and triggering the sensors.
For battery operated smoke alarms, replace the batteries on a yearly basis. To help yourself remember, attach it to a holiday such as New Year’s Eve. Keep in mind that smoke alarms containing lithium batteries cannot be changed since the batteries are built right into the device. The lithium batteries should last for 10 years, but this makes monthly testing even more important for these types of devices. Make sure to have them replaced if they are no longer testing properly, whether it is 10 years old or not. At a minimum of every 10 years, replace your smoke alarms through a smoke alarm installation professional.
How Many Smoke Alarms Do You Need?
The minimum legal requirement is to have a smoke alarm installed on each level of a home. For the maximum amount of protection, it would be wise to have a smoke alarm in each bedroom and in each living space. You can also get an interconnected system of smoke alarms so that when one alarms, they all will alarm. It might sound excessive, and you may be thinking, “Do I really need that many?” but consider the alternative. They are relatively small devices and, once installed, are barely noticeable tucked away on the ceiling. Adequate smoke alarm installation could be the difference between life and death, and that alone makes it more than worth it to make sure you have several in your home that work properly.
Even though smoke alarms are devices of convenience, and the technology is getting more and more efficient, this doesn’t mean they’re foolproof. Whether it has lithium batteries, regular batteries, or is hard-wired into your home electrical system, any device is capable of malfunctioning. Accredited Power offers a full range of smoke alarm installation and inspection services to make sure you have adequate working, and up to code devices to help keep you and your family as safe as possible.