Smoke alarms. – Those screechy little buggers which go off every-time you overcook some bacon. As annoying as they can be at times, god forbid should you ever have a house-fire whilst you’re asleep; they can save the lives of you and your family. So, while we might blindly curse at them whilst wafting a tea towel in their direction; we should afford them a little more care and attention. If you do not have a smoke alarm installed, then get onto your local electrical company immediately. Any reputable and reliable company will be able to ensure that a fire alarm is installed properly and that it is in keeping with Australian standards.
In this article we are going to explore how often you should test your smoke alarm (and how to do so properly), how often you should change the batteries and at what point you should consider replacing the alarm all together.
Let’s begin with some tell-tale signs that your smoke alarm needs double-checking:
- If the detector regularly gives off false alarms for no apparent reason
- Smoke from the kitchen frequently sets it off (thus draining the battery faster)
- The alarm regularly screeches without being touched or tampered with
Testing Your Smoke Alarm
Testing your smoke alarm is rather straight forward and can be done in just 3 simple steps.
1 – First of all it’s a good idea to let everyone in the house know that you’re going to be testing the alarm. Naturally, they emit incredibly loud screeching which can frighten the life out of those who are caught unawares.
If you have any pets or babies, it might be worth having a member of your family take them outside before proceeding as the noise can be very stressful for them.
2 – Before testing the alarm, ask one of your family members to go to the furthest point away from your smoke alarm, in your home. This is essential for testing the strength of your smoke alarm and assuring that it is fully functional. What you don’t need is an alarm which isn’t loud enough to notify everyone in your house in case of an emergency. In which case you might either need to replace the smoke alarm all together or invest in another one for larger houses.
3 – To test the alarm itself, simply press and hold the red button for a few seconds. What should happen, is an extremely loud and piercing noise should be emitted from the alarm. If this does not happen, or if the noise sounds muted, then you should change the batteries immediately.
It is also important to note that if you haven’t changed the batteries in your smoke alarm over the last 6 months, then it would be worth doing that now. Once you’ve replaced any batteries, be sure to press the test button again to ensure that the fire alarm is in good working order.
If you are living in an old house and the smoke alarm was present when you moved in, it might be worth replacing all together (particularly if you don’t know how long the firm alarm has been present) The general lifespan of a smoke alarm is about 10 to 12 years, so it’s worth having a fresh one installed for your peace of mind.