Fire Safety and the importance of smoke detectors
Every year over 60,000 fires in the home kill 700 people and injure another 10,000.
The most common causes of these fires are chip pans, or smokers’ materials setting fire to upholstery, such as chairs and sofas. Even if you don’t smoke or use a chip pan, you could still be at risk. Here are a few fire prevention reminders which will only take a few minutes to read, but could save the lives of you and your family. Fires in the home are fast spreading, lethal and devastating, yet very often preventable. Taking extra care, fitting a smoke alarm and knowing what to do if a fire occurs can help save your home and your life.
How to prevent a fire
Smoke alarms save lives!
- It is recommended that a smoke alarm is fitted on each floor of your home. Orwell provides detectors in line with regulations.
If you choose to fit additional detectors please follow this advice, you will be responsible for the fitting and maintenance of additional detectors.
- You should check each alarm once a month.
- Ensure the alarm’s battery is changed at least once a year, unless your alarm is hard-wired or powered by a lithium battery which has a longer life. In these instances please check with the manufacturer for life span of batteries.
Chip pans/deep fat fryers
- Never fill a pan more than one third full of fat or oil.
- Never leave the pan unattended when the heat is switched on.
- Never put food in the pan if the oil begins to give off smoke. Turn off the heat and allow the oil to cool.
- If a pan catches fire do not move it – turn off the heat (if safe to do so), leave the room, close the door and call the Fire Brigade. ONLY if you feel safe to do so, cover the pan with a fire blanket, or a damp tea towel and leave for 30 minutes.
- Do not throw water onto a chip pan fire
Open fires and portable heaters
- Place a fire guard in front of open fires.
- Never sit closer than 3ft or place clothes or furnishings near an open fire.
Smoke and use of matches
- Never leave a lit cigarette or pipe unattended.
- Never smoke in bed.
- Ensure cigarettes, pipes and matches are extinguished properly.
- Always keep matches out of reach of children.
Electrical appliances and wiring
- Follow manufacturers’ instructions to make sure correct fuses are used and circuits are not overloaded.
- Switch off and unplug all electrical appliances not designed to stay on.
- Service electric blankets and never leave them unattended or on whilst in bed, unless they are designed for this.
- Never use adaptors for high power appliances i.e. kettles, heaters, vacuum cleaners.
- Never use more than one adaptor per socket.
- Never pull a plug out by the flex, twist, bend or join flexes or place them under carpets.
- Look out for the signs of dangerous wiring: hot plugs and sockets; fuses that blow for no obvious reason; lights flickering; brown scorch marks on plugs and sockets.
Orwell Housing Association has installed smoke detectors in all its properties.
Smoke Detector Checks
Weekly – Press the test button on the detector
If the detector beeper makes a continuous loud sound the detector is working properly. If the detector fails to respond to the test, try replacing the battery first before contacting the Caretaker or Customer Services. If the detector is faulty, Orwell will replace it. However, you are responsible for the supply of replacement batteries.
At least once a year – clean the detector
A vacuum cleaner or soft duster should be used to clean the detector. It is advisable to remove the battery prior to cleaning.
After cleaning, the battery should be replaced and the detector tested.
At least once a year – replace battery
The detector usually requires the following types of 9v batteries: Ever-Ready Long Life or Duracell Type PP9.
No other kind of battery should be used. The smoke detector may not operate properly with other batteries.
The detector should be tested immediately after replacing the battery.
Q: The detector is found to be faulty following the check?
A: Please report the fault to the Association and it will be replaced within seven days.
Q: The battery is found to be dead following the check?
A: The person conducting the check will notify the tenant of the need to replace the battery. A record of the advice given will then be made.
Q: I took the battery out of my detector and forgot to replace it. Will my contents insurance still be valid?
A: If you have removed your battery and your property was damaged by fire, your insurers may invalidate your claim or reduce the settlement offered to you in the event of your detector being inoperable.
Mains Operated Smoke Detectors
Some of the Association’s homes have mains operated detectors and where these are in sheltered or supported housing schemes they are checked on an annual basis and if repairs are needed these will be completed within seven days. Regular testing is recommended on a weekly basis using the test button. If the detector does not activate, call the Repairs Hotline on 0345 60 100 30.
If your smoke detector is activated but there is no fire, do not remove the detector or batteries, but try and clear the property of smoke. If your detector is triggered but there is no smoke and it appears faulty, do not cut the wires to silence the alarm. To silence the alarm, try and flip the trip switch and then flip it back on. Report any fault to Orwell on the Repairs Hotline 0345 60 100 30.
If your system is a stand-alone system, i.e. not linked to a central control panel, you should try to clear the smoke from around the detector by wafting a suitable item in front of it, e.g. a tea towel or newspaper. However, if the detector persists, contact the Repairs Team.