Why this weekend is the perfect time to check your smoke alarm

Living Well | Sue Hewitt | Posted on 25 March 2021

End of daylight saving a reminder to turn back clocks and check smoke alarms.

When Victorians turn back their clocks by an hour to mark the end of daylight saving on Sunday 4 April, it’s a reminder to check your home smoke alarms are working.

Victoria’s fire services are asking people to do this life-saving check after recent research showing that the number and location of functioning smoke alarms increase your family’s chances of escaping a fire.

They are urging Victorians to use this weekend to check smoke alarms and carry out home maintenance like checking on fire risks such as damaged power cords or inspecting heating systems.

A smoke alarm

It’s no use having a smoke alarm if it’s not working – that’s the message from Fire Rescue Victoria and the Country Fire Authority chiefs, who are urging Victorians to check their smoke alarms if they are home on the long weekend or before leaving on an Easter getaway.

CFA chief officer Jason Heffernan says in the last decade most fatal fires have started in someone’s bedroom or lounge room.

“We know that many fatal fires start at night and the smell of smoke won’t wake you up,” Jason says.

“We recommend that smoke alarms are powered by a 10-year lithium battery and are interconnected – so that when one of your smoke alarms activates, the others will too.”

As the weather turns colder, Jason says it’s especially important for people’s alarms to be working as the use of heaters and electric blankets increases the risk of house fires.

Fire Rescue Commissioner Ken Block says it will only take a few minutes to clean and test your smoke alarm by pushing the test button. He says all smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years.

What you need to know about smoke alarms 

  • Smoke alarms should be installed in every living area and bedroom.
  • They should be installed on the ceiling at least 30 centimetres from a wall.
  • The alarms should be interconnected so that when any alarm activates, all the alarms will sound.
  • Test your smoke alarm batteries every month by pressing and holding the test button until the 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 your 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.