Every year, the Fire and Rescue Service attend fires that result in over 800 deaths and 17,000 injuries (Fire Service, 2014). Many of these deaths occur because the person has not had enough warning of the fire and, therefore, has not had enough time to get out of the building.
Smoke alarms are a cheap yet vitally important tool that can alert you to the presence of fire. In fact, you’re twice as likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a smoke alarm that works and, each year, 90 people die because the battery in their smoke alarm was flat or missing. Read on to find out the steps you should take in order to keep your service users safe from potential deaths caused by fire.
At the end of this month, the Department for Communities and Local Government will be running a campaign to remind people to test their smoke alarms. The Fire Kills ‘Tick, Tock, Test’ national advertising campaign will coincide with the clocks going back on the 28th–29th March. It will remind people to test their smoke alarms at the same time that they put their clocks back.
In care homes, as the Registered Manager, you are responsible for maintaining your premises and equipment properly. This will include making sure your smoke alarms are in good working order.
In home care, you can alert service users to the campaign and find out whether they have anyone who can test their alarms for them. This might be a spouse (if it is safe for them to do so), a relative, carer, friend or neighbour. Failing that, is this something you can offer to your service users during your usual visit?
Testing the smoke alarm is a simple process, which involves pressing the test button on the alarm until the alarm sounds. If it doesn’t sound, this probably means it needs a new battery, so you will need to talk to the service user about the provision of this.
If your staff are unable to do this, you could talk to your local Fire Officer, to see whether they have volunteers who can undertake this task.
What You Should Do Next
- Care home managers – you should alert your maintenance staff to the Fire Kills ‘Tick, Tock, Test’ advertising campaign and make sure they test the smoke alarms in your home during the period of the campaign (running from 16th March).
- Home care managers – you should ask staff to alert your service users to the campaign and find out whether they have someone who can test the alarm. You will need to decide what you should do for those who don’t have anyone to carry out this test. If your staff are doing this, you must make sure you undertake a risk assessment and offer training. Contact your local Fire Officer about this, to ensure they do this task safely and correctly.
- Pledge your willingness to test your smoke alarms using the Fire Kills Facebook page atwww.facebook.com/firekills.