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Fire Alarms

Be alert to fire and CO in your home - what you need to know

Most of us wouldn't think twice about putting on our seatbelt when we get in a car, or making sure the front door is locked when we leave the house. So why do so many of us leave our safety from fire and carbon monoxide (CO) to chance?

Smoke detectors/alarms

Over the centuries we've tried, often with disastrous results, to take control of fire. We won't. It's a living, breathing entity that can begin at any time, in any place, for any number of reasons. Should it break out in your home whilst you are there, working smoke alarms will ensure you have plenty of time to get out.

Detector technology has moved on apace in the last few years. There are two types available: optical, which are good for smouldering fires and therefore best suited in living rooms, hallways and bedrooms, and ionisation, better for fast flaming fires, so need to be placed on landings. Make sure all levels of your home are covered.

I said above that you need working smoke alarms. To see if they work they need testing. There's a test button which you need to press. If the alarm 'beep-beep-beeps' you're OK. Test at least once a month and if you've got kids let them do it as part of their home safety awareness. Your local Fire & Rescue Service will be happy to give advice - more below. Ask about ten-year alarms, too. They can also help with specialist alarms for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

CO detectors/alarms

CO is a silent, odourless, gas with the potential to kill, which it does every year in the UK. Initially, signs that CO is leaking into your home will be dizziness, nausea, headaches etc. One reason why it is allowed to do this is because people don't have their boilers or gas fires/flues serviced once a year. However, even if you do have your boiler and fires serviced you may still be at risk from CO poisoning. CO detectors will 'sniff out' the gas before it reaches a toxic level.

Ideally, you'll need a detector in each room which contains an appliance. You can also place extra ones in rooms where people may need warning, like bedrooms.

Help from your local Fire & Rescue Service

Calls about home fires to the Fire & Rescue Service are in decline, largely because people are more fire-aware. If your local Service hasn't given your home a fire safety check in a while, or never been to conduct one, then it's time to give them a call. You'll find the number on their website.

So, be safe from fire and CO. Don't take risks or leave it to chance.