As daylight savings approaches, this typically is when we swap out our smoke alarm batteries. We always used to swap them out twice a year, none of this testing nonsense for us. We simply just swap the batteries out and be done for another 6 months. Invariably, if we didn’t swap them out, rest assured at 2am when we’d least expect it, one of the little sods would start beeping. Then you take it down, take the battery out and bingo, no smoke alarm at all for a few days (or weeks) until new batteries were obtained.
Last year we replaced our smoke alarms for long-life photoelectric ones with 10 year batteries. So this year, all we have to do is test them. Over their lifespan, they will actually be a good investment when you consider the cost of the batteries.
We also have a monitored security system for our home which includes a smoke alarm. This was put to good use last year when we actually had a fire. It was a freezing cold winter morning, I got up, popped the bathroom heater on (yes it was a fit for purpose heater) and went back to the bedroom to get my clothing. I heard a thump, then a second thump and thought “what are those cats doing?”. Went back to the bathroom, thinking I’d shut one in, opened the door … to find the room ablaze. I slammed the door shut and ran for the fire extinguisher.
Luckily as soon as I opened the door, the monitored smoke alarm went. By the time I had got the fire extinguisher, the phone was ringing, I answered it, confirmed I needed fire brigade and ran back to the bathroom with the fire extinguisher. And managed to put out the fire.
But even then, by the time I was done, the bathroom was a mess, smoke and soot everywhere, scorched walls, flooring, melted plastic and powder from the extinguisher. The powder got all through the house as did the smell.
The fire engine showed up and I was pretty pleased they weren’t the hot type of fire fighters you see in the calendars, as I looked awful – covered in soot, smoke, unshowered and in my fleece onesie – very attractive… But at least they were able to set up a fan to blow the worst of the smoke and smell out of the house.
This event made me think even more carefully about fire in the home. We have since replaced our kitchen fire extinguisher and also put one in the bedroom. We have removed the security catches on one bedroom window – else in the event of a fire, we may struggle to get out our double glazed windows.
Also for the kitchen, we purchased a fire blanket which is on the back of our kitchen door – goodness knows I’m not the best cook in the world and I fear we may need this at some point.
These were all minor costs but could save our home if not our lives at some point.
If nothing else, make sure you check your smoke alarm batteries, they could be the difference in getting out alive.