It is a scientifically proven fact that you lose your sense of smell while sleeping, so if there was a fire in your house, you would not be able to detect it and the smoke alarm would act as your electronic nose.
It just takes mere two to three minutes for a small fire to engulf your entire room and consume it in flames. A smoke alarm provides a timely warning so that you can have a shot at escaping and saving yourself from the fire!
Without a working smoke alarm, you are:
- More likely to suffer serious injuries 26% of the times.
- Four times more likely to die in smoke fires.
The Department of Fire and Electrical Safety (DFES) recommends that you use photoelectric smoke alarms because they provide the most time for the residents to escape the burning property.
In Western Australia, these residential homes are required to have 240V smoke alarms that are connected to mains power:
- Homes that have been built since 1997
- Homes that have been renovated since 1997
- Home that have been sold since 2009
- Home that have been available for renting or hiring
DFES recommends installing smoke alarms powered by the mains, in all the other homes. If that seems too costly, then one can opt for lithium-powered smoke alarms that run for up to 10 years. It will be able to detect smoke for 10 years without having to replace the battery. The benefits are huge:
- There is no need to fix the ‘beep’ of the battery
- There is no need to pay for the replaceable batteries every year (a major cost cutting)
- There is no need to climb ladders for replacing and fixing broken or dead batteries each year
If there are more than one smoke alarms in your home, it is recommended that they are interconnected. It means that when one smoke alarm detects a fire, all the alarms will ring alerting every person in your home. It is required by law to interconnect the smoke alarms in newly constructed homes since May 1st 2015.
How to maintain your smoke alarms?
- Every month you need to test the smoke alarms by pressing the test button till you hear a loud alert tone and then release it. You can use a broom handle if you can’t reach it. (Manufacturers recommend testing your smoke alarms every fifteen days.)
- Every year you need to remove the dust and cobwebs by vacuuming around the smoke alarm vents.
- Every year you need to spray the area around the smoke alarm with the surface insect spray to prevent the insects from nesting inside.
- Every 1st April replace the 9 Volt battery. Most of the mains-powered smoke alarms come with backup batteries, so you need to check the manufacturer’s instructions or the user manual.
- Every 10 years, replace all the smoke alarms.
Any property without a smoke alarm can face an infringement notice up to $750, while the landlord or the seller may incur a fine up to $5000. Under the Building Regulation 2012, it is the duty of the local government body to enforce the mandatory installation and maintenance of smoke alarms.