Do you have a smoke alarm in your home? If you do, you’re not alone. But how often do you test it and do you even know if it’s up to the job it’s supposed to do?
New Which? research is reassuringly positive about the widespread ownership of this potentially life-saving little product, with 19 out of 20 Which? members telling us that they have an alarm fitted and eight out of ten having more than one around their home.
But ownership is one thing – do you know if your smoke alarm actually works and do you ever test it?
The same Which? research revealed that fewer than one in twenty Which? members checks their alarms regularly enough.
Just 4% of smoke alarm owners told us that they run a weekly alarm check, which is recommended by the London Fire Brigade. Seven in ten owners admitted to checking their alarms only every six months or even less frequently than that. And 2% of owners admitted to never checking their alarms at all.
With products like this – where being in working order is absolutely critical but impossible to tell – running a check every week is the best way you can make sure your smoke alarm is primed and ready to let you know when there’s a fire. So, why not ink it in to the diary alongside something you do weekly, such as cooking the Sunday roast or putting the bins out?
Don’t Buy smoke alarm
Which? tests shows that you can’t always trust the alarms you find in the shops to sound when you need them to.
When we last tested smoke alarms in November 2013, one of them failed our tests. Then, when we tested carbon monoxide alarms in November 2016, we found three that would let you down.
And now, following our most recent smoke alarms test, yet another product designed to save lives has failed at the one job it’s meant to do.
Our tests suggest that in certain types of fast-flaming fires, such as those caused by plastics and solvents, the Don’t Buy Devolo Home Control Smoke Detector (30%, £53-£163) may not sound. This is what we found with one of the two samples we tested.
A second sample of this Devolo alarm passed all of our fire tests, but only just made it through the flaming plastics fire test, triggering at the very last permitted moment.
Devolo told us that safety is its number one concern and it aims to follow the highest international standards. It went on to say it’s concerned by our results and that the alarm has passed standard safety tests at two certified test labs.
But we’re so worried about the safety implications of this smoke alarm failing our tests that we’re calling on Devolo to remove it from sale while it investigates. We have passed our findings on to Trading Standards.
Do you have a smoke alarm fitted in your home or even more than one? How often do you check it?