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A smoke alarm in a coat pocket, one on top of a TV, and several in cupboards and on shelves and windowsills – these are some of the strange but true reasons behind the UK’s one in four smoke alarms failing .
In a bid to educate householders about the correct installation of smoke alarms, the Fire Kills campaign has released a list of firefighters’ strangest stories. They include:
- A man who kept his smoke alarm in a drawer when he was inside the house, but would take it into the garden in his pocket when he went outside for a cigarette
- A smoke alarm perched on top of the television set in case the TV would catch fire
- A smoke alarm discovered in a woman’s coat pocket after a house fire. She said that it had started beeping so she took it down from the ceiling and put it into her coat so as not to hear it
- A smoke alarm fitted inside the door of a kitchen cupboard “to stop the smoke getting to it”
Cupboards shelves, windowsills and even coat pockets are some of the most common – but dangerous – places firefighters have found smoke alarms on their visits to residents’ homes.
Government advice is that as a minimum, every home should have a smoke alarm fitted on the ceiling of every floor. But while the vast majority of the country’s households now own a smoke alarm, around one in four alarms still fail in a house fire because the smoke did not reach them or the batteries are missing or flat.
“These anecdotes clearly emphasise that many people are unaware of how important it is to fit their smoke alarm correctly,” said the Government’s chief fire and rescue adviser, Sir Ken Knight. “A working alarm can give you and your loved ones the vital seconds needed to escape in a house fire. But positioning your alarm out of sight and mind can render it as useless as removing the batteries altogether.
“Make sure you have an alarm on the ceiling of every floor of your home, placed so that smoke can reach it easily in the event of a fire. And don’t forget to test it regularly once it’s in place to ensure that you and your loved ones have a fighting chance when you need it most.”
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