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Daylight Savings

Smoke alarm safety

- A timely reminder to change your smoke alarm battery when you change your clock at the end of daylight savings and help save lives -


Almost three-quarters of Australians believe they would wake up if a fire started during the night, despite evidence1 that sense of smell is reduced when people are asleep and that smoke may put them into an even deeper sleep. 


According to the Duracell National Fire Safety Survey, in the event of a house fire 49 per cent of Australians believe the smell of smoke would alert them.  Other respondents highlighted the crackling sound of the fire (39 per cent) and the flickering light (22 per cent) as expected wake-up calls.  


The Tasmania Fire Service Chief Officer, Mike Brown warns, that people could not rely on their senses to wake them and that household smoke alarms could mean the difference between life and death in the event of a fire.


“The high-pitched sound of a smoke alarm activating is designed to wake you and other family members before the smoke seriously harms you. If you’re asleep at the time of the fire, the smoke, which is full of toxic gases, may numb your senses and put you into a deeper sleep,” Chief Officer Brown said.


Despite these warnings, the survey found that only 12 per cent of households tested their smoke alarms each month, and over 60 per cent of households were not replacing their smoke alarm batteries once a year.


Chief Officer Brown said the change in seasons called for even greater vigilance with smoke alarms.


“In the winter months, the risks for household fires are higher, as people use more electrical equipment or appliances such as heaters, dryers and electric blankets, therefore working smoke alarms are crucial in giving households the early warning needed to safely escape a fire in the home,” he said.


In accordance with the end of Daylight Saving, Tasmanian residents are encouraged to change their clocks and their smoke alarm batteries on Sunday 1st April.



 The Tasmania Fire Service recommends all residents:


  • Install smoke alarms in all bedrooms and in all paths of travel between sleeping areas and exits to the open air, such as hallways and living areas. Ideally smoke alarms should be interconnected so regardless of where a fire starts all smoke alarms in the home will sound to alert occupants at the earliest possible time


  • Purchase smoke alarms, preferably the photo-electric type, that carry the Australia Standards symbol


  • Test smoke alarms monthly by pressing the test button


  •  Replace smoke alarm batteries annually with long-lasting alkaline batteries


  • Avoid installing smoke alarms close to kitchens and bathrooms to minimise false alarms. A primary reason why smoke alarms don't operate when needed is because batteries have been removed after repeated false alarms. False alarms are often caused by steam from bathrooms or by cooking fumes


  • Smoke alarms should be supported by a home fire escape plan which is practiced and understood by the whole family


  • In the event of a fire call Triple Zero (000) from a safe location and wait for the Fire Brigade


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Sleep Laboratory Research

   1According to a sleep laboratory experiment conducted by Bruck D. & Brennan P. in 2001 at Victoria University testing the responsiveness of 17 participants to a smoke odour, the findings indicated that people will wake to low level sounds during a fire but only around half will arouse to a low level flickering light or a smell.  This further highlights the importance of the high-pitched sound of a smoke alarm giving households an important early warning and safe escape from home fires.