The Captains Journal - Electrical Blog

Are smoke alarms compulsory in NSW?

Yes, they are. Why? Because this little $20 appliance could save your life.

You might be thinking you'd be able to smell smoke pretty quickly, why bother with a smoke alarm? What if you were in the bathroom with the door shut and the shower on? What if you were asleep? Did you know your nose doesn't work very well when you're having a snooze? (if at all) Relying on your sense of smell to wake you up is a really bad idea. There are millions of situations where you might not smell the smoke in time to avert disaster.

What about if your family was at home without your amazing, super sensitive nose on high alert? In the time it takes you to duck out and pick up a pizza, your home and loved ones could be in serious trouble without a smoke alarm.

Here's another potential scenario.

Have you ever walked away from a pot while it was on the stove? The phone rings, one of the kids does something daft (again), or someone knocks on the door. There are more than 4500 house fires throughout NSW each year, and the most common cause of these fires was unattended cooking.

Steaming pot

The list of potential fire hazards in your average Sydney home is long: electric blankets, heaters, overloaded power points, candles, lint in the dryer, just to name a few. In each and every one of these potential fire situations, a working smoke alarm can quickly detect smoke from both smouldering and flaming fires and provide a life-saving warning to everyone in the home.

You're twice as likely to die in a house fire if you don't have correctly fitted, working smoke alarms in your home.

You may notice many of the recommendations you see around fire safety mention ‘working’ smoke alarms. It may seem obvious however just buying a smoke alarm, whacking it up on the ceiling, and giving yourself a pat on the back for your hard work is not the end of the story.

Keeping smoke alarms in top working order

Smoke alarms are very low maintenance but they do need a bit of love to ensure the alarm works at 100% 365 days a year. Regular testing, a regular battery change, and a quick clean will reduce nuisance alarms, prevent that annoying beep, beep, beep when the battery is dying, and provide the earliest possible warning if a fire starts.

Fire

Simple smoke alarm maintenance

  • 9-volt battery powered smoke alarms need a battery change at least once a year (or when they start to beep). Put a reminder in your diary or calendar each year so you don’t forget. Choosing a significant day like April Fools Day, 1 July, or Gran’s birthday will help to make it routine.
  • Test the alarm every month by pressing the ‘test’ button to set off the alarm.
  • 10-year lithium battery powered alarms should be replaced, yep you guessed it, every 10 years.
  • Vacuum the alarm and clear away any cobwebs every few months to keep the sensor clear of dust and debris.
  • Hardwired interconnected alarms should be checked by a licenced electrician every year to ensure the backup battery and mains power is all working well.
  • Most smoke alarms last 10 years so will need to be replaced after this time.

In New South Wales the legislation requires each home to have a smoke alarm installed on every level of your home, placed near all bedrooms.

This is the minimum recommended, however, to fully protect your family and provide the best possible warning in the event of a fire we recommend installing a hardwired interconnected smoke alarm system throughout your home with alarms placed in all bedrooms, living areas, hallways, and the garage.

Where can I get help?

Our electricians can provide expert advice on the best smoke alarm system for your Sydney home. Contact Captain Cook on 0481 134 679 or complete our service request form today.

For more information on NSW smoke alarm legislation or tips on fire safety in your home visit Fire & Rescue NSW - fire.nsw.gov.au

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