Daylight saving has finished and your probably still trying to reset both the clocks in your house and your own body clock.

While we say goodbye to long and lazy summer evenings, we are now saying hello to brighter mornings. I can say, those early starts, over the last few weeks, have been a real challenge in the dark.

While Daylight saving is about resetting, it’s also a perfect time to think about yours and your families safety. And when it comes to talking safety in and around the home, there’s no better people to ask than the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service.

Established in 1862, the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service have been protecting the lives and properties of South Australians for over 150 years. Along with its 35 metro and 16 regional stations, the MFS’s Wakefield Street Headquarters has long been a fascination for passing children and adults alike, keen to get a peek at one of the many fire appliances parked and ready for duty.

Being a fire officer is not all about fighting fires, a more important message is spreading the word about prevention.


1. Every home has to have smoke alarms – everyone knows that – but why are they so important?

• When you sleep you have a reduced sense of smell. People think that they will “wake up and smell the smoke” but that is unlikely to happen
• So smoke alarms wake you up when they sense smoke and allow you time to escape
• In February alone the MFS went to 6 house fires where the smoke alarm saved 16 lives!


2. We’ve just come to the end of daylight saving and over the years we’ve all heard “When you change your clocks, change your smoke alarm batteries!” What’s the story here? Why change your smoke alarm batteries at the end of daylight saving?

• The end of daylight saving is the start of the cooler months and that’s when the MFS has its busiest time.
• Smoke alarms give off a warning beep when their battery or back-up battery voltage drops below a certain level and that will always happen when the temperature is at its lowest – usually in the very early hours of the morning.
• So to avoid being woken up at 3am we ask people to use daylight saving as their reminder. Change any disposable batteries in your smoke alarms routinely once a year and you will always know that you have smoke alarms with enough power to save your life.
• If you didn’t do it last Sunday – it’s not too late – change your smoke alarm batteries today.


3. So it’s not enough just to install smoke alarms! You have to make sure they have a power supply by changing any disposable batteries. Is there anything else you should do?

• Test smoke alarms once a month – to make sure that the smoke alarms are actually working.


4. How do you test smoke alarms?

• Every smoke alarm has a test button. Just use a broom or mop handle to push and hold the test button for a couple of seconds and the smoke alarm will sound.


5. Is that it for maintenance?

• Clean smoke alarms at least every 6 months. Use the soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to vacuum around the outside of smoke alarms. Remove any insects, spider webs, dust, airborne pollutants. Keep them working at maximum efficiency.
• Smoke alarms are only manufactured to last for 10 years; they don’t last forever. Then the whole smoke alarm has to be replaced with a new one.
• There will be an installation date or a use-by date on the inside of the smoke alarm casing.


6. So if the smoke alarms go off in the middle of the night, what do you do?

• Every family should have a Home Fire Escape Plan – that is, every member of the family needs to know what to do if the smoke alarm goes off in the middle of the night. What should they do, how do they get out, where do they meet?
• There is a very good pamphlet available from the MFS or from the MFS website to help you work out what your family needs to do.


7. There is a pretty big range of smoke alarms to choose from. How do you choose the right one?

• Must meet AS 3786
• MFS recommends
• Hard wired
• Photoelectric
• Installed in passage ways leading to sleeping areas, in every sleeping area and in living areas
• Interconnected

Your local Mitre 10 is full of surprises, including an exceptional range of fire prevention equipment to keep you and your family safe. From battery operated to hard wired smoke alarms, they are all here.

Quell have taken the confusion out of selecting the right smoke alarm with their simple and easy to follow colour coding system which allows you can pick the smoke alarm that’s best suited to different areas of the house. From bedrooms, to Kitchens to Living Areas and Hallways.

These Quell smoke alarms all come with a 10 year warranty, which is the life of the alarm. They also include a bug screen to prevent insects from crawling in and damaging the unit.

A super important feature is the Hush button. If you’ve burnt the toast and set off the alarm, this handy button silences a nuisance alarm with just a push, for a few minutes while the smoke dissipates and then it resets. No jumping on a ladder to remove the battery with these Quell models.
It’s important to replace batteries in smoke alarms every year, however, this Living Area & Hallway Photoelectric model comes with a sealed lithium battery that is guaranteed for an amazing 10 year life. So no need for yearly replacements. Ideal for the elderly, rental homes or anyone who wants an easy life.

And it’s not just about smoke alarms. From Carbon Monoxide Alarms, Fire blankets to fire extinguishers, home fire prevention is something we all need to take seriously. It’s vitally important to make sure your smoke alarm is working.

Drop by your local Mitre 10 to pick up some batteries, a new smoke alarm or for some information. The good news is, there’s always someone here happy to help.

Phone the Community Safety number on 1300 737 637
For more information on smoke alarms and other ways to stay safe in our homes head to the MFS website.






About The Author

In the Garden is an exciting new local South Australian TV program on Channel 9 this Summer & next Autumn showcasing the best ‘green’ stories this state has to tell. Check out the latest in garden trends, new plants and top tips to keep those gardens blooming.