Testing your fire alarm
How often do you test your fire alarm? Every year, the fire and rescue service is called out to 50,000 home fires which kill nearly 500 and injure over 11,000. It’s not enough to have a fire alarm in your home – you need to test and clean it regularly to make sure it’s working.
Remember, your fire alarm is there to help save the lives of you and your loved ones.
Types of fire alarms
There are four main types of fire alarms on the market:
- Ionisation: These are cheap and simple. They are great at detecting smaller particles of smoke from fast flaming fires, such as burning paper and wood. They will give you plenty of warning before the smoke gets too thick.
- Optical: These are more expensive. They are great at detecting larger particles of smoke from slow flaming fires, such as smouldering foam upholstery and overheated PVC wiring.
- Heat alarms: These detect the increase in temperature from a fire and are not triggered by smoke. They are ideal for kitchens as they won’t go off if you burn your toast.
- Combined: These combine different types of alarm. The most common are combined optical and heat alarms, and combined smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
How to test your fire alarm
Smoke alarms need to be regularly tested to ensure they’re working properly and will continue to keep you safe. But the truth is as many as one in ten people never check their smoke alarms are working.
Smoke alarm manufacturers may give different guidelines about how often a smoke alarm should be tested. A good rule of thumb is to test your smoke alarms weekly. If you think you might forget, you can set up a weekly alarm on your phone to remind you.
The elderly or people with mobility issues may struggle to test their alarms, so it’s important they have someone to regularly test their alarms on their behalf.
Testing your smoke alarm is very simple:
- Look for the button labelled ‘test’ on your detector. Push it in and hold. If your smoke detector is working, the alarm will go off.
- Make sure the alarm sounds clearly and for a long enough time to alert you.
- Check there are no ‘warning’ alarms that indicate your battery is running low.
When to change your fire alarm battery
Most modern smoke alarms will alert you with a continuous chirping noise when their battery needs changing. However, don’t wait for the smoke alarm to remind you. In a standard smoke alarm, you should replace the battery every 12 months. Some alarms are fitted with sealed ten-year batteries that don’t need to be replaced every year.
How to look after your fire alarm
Check the manufacturer’s instructions. Smoke alarms usually need very little maintenance. The main thing you need to remember is to clean your smoke alarm every month using the soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner. This will prevent any dust, dirt or insects from clogging up the alarm’s sensors.
For more advice about your fire or smoke alarm, or if you are looking to install a new alarm, just get in touch with us at DNA Security. Simply give us a call on 01424 718 844 for an informal chat or to book an appointment.