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Pictured (l-r) are: Adrian Kelly, Clare Chief Fire Officer; Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council; Mayor of Clare, Cllr Mary Howard; Carmel Kirby, Director of Services, Physical Development Directorate, Clare County Council; and JP McGrath, Wholetime Station Officer, Ennis Fire Station. Photo: Eamon Ward.

National Fire Safety Week 2020 – Smoke alarms save lives

The importance of having working smoke alarms installed in the home is the key message of National Fire Safety Week 2020. National Fire Safety Week, jointly run with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, is about enhancing fire safety, particularly in the home. This year’s theme is ‘Smoke Alarms Save Lives’, or ‘Sábhálann aláraim deataigh beathaí’. The campaign will focus on fire safety in the home as the public continues to spend a greater amount of time at home during the current public health situation.

Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Councillor Mary Howard, said, “National Fire Safety Week provides a timely reminder that there are steps we can all take to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our homes from fire. Remember the STOP acronym: ‘S’ is for Smoke alarms – make sure you have at least one on every floor. ‘T’ is for Test your smoke alarm weekly, or ask someone to check it for you. ‘O’ is for Obvious dangers – look for fire risks like overloaded sockets, candles and unattended appliances. And ‘P’ is for Plan your escape route – keep access routes clear and have your keys at the ready.”

Adrian Kelly, Clare Chief Fire Officer, said, “This year’s campaign is about highlighting the importance of having working smoke alarms. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, people have been spending more time at home. It is therefore more important than ever that we are all fully informed of the measures we can take to protect ourselves and our homes from fire. Fire Safety Week 2020 is focusing on fire safety in the home and encouraging all homes to have smoke alarms and to test them on a weekly basis. We hope to help the public build new fire safety habits they can bring with them as routines return to some normality in the future.”

Mr Kelly is reiterating the information available on firesafetyweek.ie and encouraging members of the public to visit the website. “Fit smoke alarms today and make sure they are in good working order. Working smoke alarms will warn you if there is a fire. Remember: Your sense of smell does not work when you are asleep and smoke can put you in a deeper sleep.

“If someone in the home is deaf, or has impaired hearing, they may not hear an audible warning from a smoke alarm, e.g. if not wearing a hearing aid at night. There are smoke alarm systems on the market that use strobe lights or vibrating pads to give alert of danger from fire. These offer improved warning for people who may have difficulty hearing a smoke alarm with audible warning.”

Smoke alarms may be tested by pressing the test button with the handle tip of a floor brush. Replace the batteries when they are not working and once a year in standard alarms, or as soon as you hear the warning beep. If you have 10-year smoke alarms, you need to replace the whole alarm after 10 years.

People are advised to get at least one smoke alarm for each floor in the home. Fit them between the sleeping areas and the kitchen and living rooms – one in the hallway at ground floor, and one at each upper level, in the landing. For an enhanced level of protection, consideration may also be given to fitting alarms in living rooms and kitchen, in bedrooms used by vulnerable people, or in bedrooms where there is a television or large electrical appliance (such as a computer). (Heat alarms may be considered where fumes from cooking or smoke from cigarettes or open fires could lead to unwanted alarms.)

Position smoke alarms at ceiling level in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Vacuum the smoke alarms regularly and wipe the cover. If they get clogged with dust they may not work properly.

Play your part during National Fire Safety Week. Visit firesafetyweek.ie and find out how you can help to prevent and detect fires in your home. It could save your life one day.

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