Firefighters are asking Victorians to check their smoke alarms are in working order before embarking on their Easter getaways this weekend.
Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) and Country Fire Authority (CFA) say the best time to do this is before daylight saving ends this Easter Sunday.
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said it was vital for families to conduct this life-saving check because only working smoke alarms save lives.
“Normally we’d ask people to check their smoke alarm when they change their clock at the end of daylight savings, but this year we’re urging Victorians to take action before they hit the road this Easter long weekend,” he said.
“Most fatal fires in the last 10 years have started in either someone’s lounge room or bedroom. We know that many fatal fires start at night and the smell of smoke won’t wake you up.
“We recommend that smoke alarms are powered by a 10-year lithium battery and are interconnected – so that when one of your smoke alarms activate, the others will too.
“We’re encouraging Victorians to keep themselves safe from fire as we move into cooler weather, especially when heaters and electric blankets bring an elevated risk of house fires, Chief Officer Heffernan said.
Fire Rescue Commissioner Ken Block said it was equally important to test smoke alarms and clean them regularly.
“It’s no good having a smoke alarm installed if it isn’t working – a smoke alarm that is properly maintained can save your life if there is a fire,” he said.
“If you’re staying home this weekend, it will only take a few minutes to clean and then test your smoke alarm by pushing the test button. And if you’re travelling, make sure you do it before you leave.
“It’s a small step you can take to ensure your smoke alarms will work when you need it most.
“Regardless of the type of smoke alarm you have, all smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years,” Commissioner Block said.
When checking, installing or replacing your smoke alarms, FRV and CFA recommend:
• Smoke alarms should be installed in every living area and bedroom.
• Smoke alarms should be interconnected so that when any alarm activates, all smoke alarms will sound.
• Test your smoke alarm batteries every month by pressing and holding the test button until the smoke alarm beeps three times.
• Clean your smoke alarms every year by dusting, vacuuming or gently wiping around the cover to clean it so it will sound if there is smoke.
• If you have 9-volt batteries in smoke alarms, the batteries must be replaced every year.
• All smoke alarm units (including those attached to mains power) should be replaced every 10 years, and it is best to replace with hard-wired, interconnected smoke alarms. Otherwise, replace your smoke alarms with a unit that has a tamper-proof chamber and 10-year lithium battery.
Reviewed 30 March 2021