Any death in a house fire is unacceptable. Unacceptable to the Fire Service, the community and especially to the victim’s family. It’s ironic that our greatest protection comes at the smallest cost. Smoke alarms have been topical, with two deaths recently in a house fire, including a grandmother and small child. Bizarrely, there were 11 smoke alarms in the house. Media reports suggest that none were working and were stored in a box in a wardrobe. Just guessing, but a likely reason for them not working may have been flat batteries. This is a common and deadly error of judgement.
The cheapest units cost just over $10 each. New batteries are even cheaper. Installation is simple. No tradesmen are required and no expensive tools are needed. You can stand on a chair to put a screw or nail into the wall or ceiling. It could not be simpler. So if it is cheap, easy and fast to install, why do so many of our homes not have them fitted? Could it be the mistaken belief that ‘fire could never happen to me’. The truth is fire could happen to any of us and unless we are prepared, it could be fatal.
That said you still need to change the batteries regularly. Sure, we have all been annoyed by alarms bleeping when the battery runs low. Think ahead and have spare batteries on hand and change them regularly. The daylight saving changeover twice a year is recommended. Likewise, don’t be tempted to remove the battery just because you regularly burn the toast.
But our responsibility as parents doesn’t end there. How many of us have children that have left home and are now living in a flatting situation? Do you know if they have a smoke alarms? Let’s face it; our kids are unlikely to think of such a thing. I make sure to give both my children a new smoke alarm as a flat warming present. Makes more sense than a pot plant that will die when they don’t water it!
One last thought which may sound bizarre and probably is: How many of our kids crash at a friend’s house or flat, especially after a night of drinking. Several months ago in Hamilton three young people perished in a house fire, some of whom were just crashing for the night. What about giving your kid a smoke alarm as part of their overnight kit to keep them safe overnight. More important than a toothbrush I suggest.
Finally I leave you with this statistic: In the past twelve months there have been nine deaths in household fires where there were no working smoke alarms. In alarmed houses there have been…NONE! Protect your home, your family and yourself…NOW!!!