Listen out for smoke alarms – you could save a life

22 September 2017
Row of houses

​People are being urged to be good neighbours and take action if they hear a smoke alarm sounding next door.

Rather than ignoring a continuously sounding smoke alarm, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) is asking neighbours to check what has triggered it.

If a fire has broken out smoke can overwhelm people very quickly, leaving them unable to summon help for themselves or escape, especially if the fire starts when they are asleep.

Lisa Bryan, of the NFRS home safety team, said: “Please don’t ignore it if you hear your neighbour’s smoke alarm going off for a prolonged period, as it may well mean they need help.

“If you can, please check what’s happening – knock on their door, or look through a window if you don’t get an answer. If you’ve got any concerns there may be a fire, dial 999.

“When you call the fire service, the call handlers will talk to you about what you can see, smell or hear to help decide what is happening and if we need to attend. We’d much rather be on the safe side than be fighting a well-established fire where people need rescuing.”

Take a look, not a risk

The advice is especially important for those with older or vulnerable neighbours, who may need extra help in evacuating the building.

Ms Bryan added: “Please take the time to check what has triggered the smoke alarm, not least because if there’s a fire next door it could spread to your home as well!

“But remember your personal safety is paramount, so if you do discover a fire, always call 999 and wait for us to arrive – don’t put yourself at risk by entering the premises.”

Emergency advice for all homes

If a fire breaks out in your home, NFRS advice is to get out, stay out and dial 999. Having an escape plan that all family members understand will help everyone get out safely in an emergency.

Conducting bedtime checks to switch off electrical items, close doors and ensure any candles or smoking materials are fully extinguished will create good home fire safety habits.

Ms Bryan said: “A good bedtime routine will give you the confidence you’re helping to protect your family and home. Practise your escape plan together too, and ensure everyone knows where the keys are kept for external doors and windows.”

Protect your family and home with smoke alarms

  • Install at least one working smoke alarm on every level of your home.
  • Consider fitting additional alarms near rooms with particular risks such as electrical appliances, and near sleeping areas.
  • Don’t put alarms in or near kitchens and bathrooms where smoke and steam can set them off by accident. Instead, consider installing a heat detector to protect cooking areas.
  • The ideal place to fit a smoke alarm is on the ceiling, in the middle or a room, hallway or landing.
  • Regularly press to test – check all smoke alarms are working at least once a month.
  • Keep smoke alarms free of dust by running the vacuum cleaner nozzle over them once a month.
  • Replace all smoke alarms every 10 years, or sooner if you identify a fault.
  • Never remove the battery from a smoke alarm.
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