When you change your clocks, check your smoke alarm

THE Fire Kills campaign is urging people to make a potentially life-saving move when they change their clocks on the weekend of Sunday 25 March, by taking a moment to test their smoke alarms too.

Their hard hitting advertising campaign, released last week, reminds people that there’s more at stake than the noise when you forget to test your smoke alarm - with a tagline stating “We all lose an hour’s sleep this weekend - make sure you don’t lose a lot more”.

A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999. But just half of all householders who own a smoke alarm say that they test that it’s working on a regular basis.

While losing that extra hour’s sleep on Sunday 25 March may not be appealing, turning the clocks forward will already be on the majority of UK households’ `to-do’ lists.

While we all keep our clocks working and we ensure that they stay on track, it’s shocking that many people forget to do the simplest of tests to ensure the safety of themselves and their loved ones.

You’re four times more likely to die in a fire if your smoke alarm is not working. So it’s clear that the simple act of testing your alarm is a vital part of any household routine.

Andy Tucker, Risk Manager for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “Everyone soon notices when a clock stops ticking, but it’s not so easy to be sure that your smoke alarm is still in working order. Whether the battery is flat, has been removed for a kid’s toy or the connection is loose, everyone should take the time to test their smoke alarm.”

Chief Executive of The Fire Fighters Charity John Parry said: “We know just how hard the fire service works to prevent fires from starting in the first place, so we are urging people to heed the advice of their local firefighters now that British Summer Time is upon us. When you put your clocks forward this March, please take an extra moment to push the button on your smoke alarm to make sure it’s working properly - it could save your life and that of your family.”

Listen out for radio and press adverts supporting the `Change your clocks, Test your smoke alarms’ campaign. An online video has also been released showing a mantelpiece clock melting in the heat of a house fire - bringing home the harsh reality of the consequences of a fire in the home.

Help keep yourself and your loved ones safe in the home by following these simple steps:

• A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999. Make sure you fit one on every level of your home and test them regularly. • Make testing your smoke alarm part of your household routine. Test the alarm by pressing the button regularly; change your battery once a year or invest in a 10-year alarm; and clean the alarm casing twice a year to ensure dust isn’t blocking the sensor.

• Whatever happens, never remove the battery in your smoke alarm.

• Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do in a fire and practise your escape route.

• For more information visit the Fire Kills campaign’s Facebook page.

If you want an extra nudge to test your smoke alarm regularly, try setting an automatic reminder. Safelincs, in partnership with the Fire Kills has created a free service that reminds you, by email or text, when it’s time to test your smoke alarm, change the battery or renew the unit. The service is completely free and can be cancelled at any time.