Winter is here! We turn to heaters and fireplaces to warm our homes, and experts are urging Australian families to keep safe.
According to research, an accidental house fire occurs approximately every 26 minutes in Australia, killing more than 100 people each year. Roughly two-thirds of these deaths result from fire in properties without working smoke alarms.
According to Smoke Alarm Solutions (SAS) there are potentially more than 3.8 million homes in Australia without working smoke alarms, which are classified as no smoke alarms at all, or smoke alarms that are faulty, without batteries, expired or placed in the wrong locations.
Without a working smoke alarm you are four times more likely to die.
In light of these staggering numbers, a free community safety initiative has been developed to remind Australians to test their smoke alarms.
Known as Alarm Reminders, it i a free online reminder service that sends an email and/or text message at regular intervals to remind householders to test their smoke alarms, change the batteries or replace smoke alarms when they expire.
The research by SBS has found that 83.7% of us don’t know the expiry or manufacture date of our smoke alarms. A further 73.7% of us are also unaware that smoke alarms must be replaced after 10 years.
According to Vicki Bailey, Smoke Alarm Specialist at Alarm Reminders “Smoke alarms save lives – but only when they are working. One in five Australians will experience a house fire in their lifetime. Spending just a minute a month checking your smoke alarms could save your life, and that of your family.”
“In our busy lives, it’s all too easy to forget to do potentially life-saving things like check your smoke alarms. It takes mere seconds, but remembering to check them regularly is not something that many families think about or do. A recent survey indicated that more than 67% of Australians would use Alarm Reminders, cementing the need for such a service.”
Alarm Reminders act as the first regular and ongoing prompt for Australian families to check and replace their alarms.
“Parents need to wake up to the danger that they are putting themselves and their children in by not having working smoke alarms. We hope that the initiative will start this revolution," says Vicki.
She shares the following life-saving tips that families need to know about smoke alarms:
1. House fires are more common in the winter months when people are using fireplaces, heaters and other electrical equipment. The time to check your smoke alarm is now.
2. The majority of deaths occur between 9pm and 6am, and it only takes around 3 to 4 minutes for a fire to completely envelop a house. While sound can disrupt sleep, scents cannot. A sleeping person is incapable of smelling smoke and therefore cannot detect a fire.
3. Many people make the mistake of deactivating their smoke alarm while cooking or when it starts beeping. You must never do this, as it’s extremely common for us to forget to replace it.
4. Smoke alarms have a 10-year life span. If your alarm is over 10 years old it needs to be replaced. If you’re not sure how old they are, replace them. Every single Fire Authority in Australia strongly recommends photoelectric smoke alarms.
5. 58.5% of people think smoke alarms should be checked yearly. This is wrong – smoke alarms should be checked monthly.
For more information or to sign up to the free Alarm Reminders service visit www.alarmreminders.org.au or call (07) 3861 9418. Alarm Reminders is a completely free community safety initiative.