Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my smoke alarm is working properly?
- Check your smoke alarm by pressing the test button. Use a broom handle if you cannot reach.
- Hold down the button until you hear the loud alert tone, then release. You may need to press the button again to turn off the alarm.
- You should test your smoke alarms monthly and change the batteries annually.
Where should smoke alarms be installed in my home?
- The best level of protection can be gained by installing smoke alarms in each bedroom, in corridors and hallways that lead to exits and the living area.
When should I change my smoke alarm battery?
- How often you need to change your battery will depend on what type of smoke alarm you have.
- If the batteries in your mains powered smoke alarms are non-rechargeable they must be replaced every year.
- If your smoke alarm is powered by a 9-volt battery, the battery should be replaced every year.
- If your smoke alarm is powered by a long-life lithium battery, the entire smoke alarm must be replaced every 10 years.
How often should I test my smoke alarm battery?
- You should test your smoke alarm at least every month.
How do I maintain my smoke alarm?
- Maintain your smoke alarm by:
- Checking your smoke alarm for dust and cobwebs and cleaning with a vacuum cleaner at least every six months.
- Vacuuming with a soft brush attachment around the smoke alarm vents.
- Using a surface insect spray around the smoke alarm to prevent insects nesting inside it.
- Never paint over or cover your smoke alarm.
What type of smoke alarm does DFES recommend?
- DFES recommends you install photo-electric smoke alarms. Research indicates this type of alarm consistently provides sufficient time for occupants to escape from fires, provided the alarms are properly installed and maintained.
- DFES also recommends that owners purchase smoke alarms with the following features:
- hush (silence) function
- test function
- rechargeable back-up battery.
- Smoke alarm legislation requires that homes have mains powered smoke alarms professionally installed before they can be sold or rented.
How often should smoke alarms be replaced?
- Smoke alarms, regardless of type, must be replaced every 10 years.
What is a storm?
- Storms develop when warm, humid air near the ground is pushed rapidly upward into an unstable atmosphere.
- Storms can bring strong winds, hail, lightning and flooding.
Why prepare for a storm?
- It’s important to prepare your home and family for storms because they can be extremely dangerous.
- Damaging winds, flash floods, lightning, hail and tornadoes can cause damage to homes, cars and the environment.
- Storms can even cause injury or loss of life.
- Most storm damage to homes occurs from:
- loose and broken roof materials allowing water to get through
- fallen trees and branches
- flooding from blocked gutters and downpipes
- You can stay safe and reduce damage to your home by being prepared.
What should I do when a storm is forecast?
- Secure or remove loose material and rubbish from around your home or workplace.
- Weigh down loose objects using plastic bags filled with sand, rather than bricks that can be blown around in strong wind.
- Ensure your emergency kit is complete.
- Ensure your pets and animals are in a safe area.
- Move your vehicles under cover.
- If you are away from home, contact family or friends to ensure your home is secure.
- Boat owners should make sure their boats are securely moored.
- Campers should find alternative shelter.
What should I do during a storm?
- Close your curtains and blinds and stay inside away from windows.
- If caught outside find safe shelter away from trees, powerlines, metal objects, storm water drains, rivers and streams.
- If boating, swimming or surfing leave the water.
- If there is lightning, unplug electrical appliances and do not use landline telephones.
- If there is flooding you can create your own sandbags by using plastic bags or pillow cases filled with sand.
- If driving:
- Slow down, turn your lights on and keep a safe distance from other drivers.
- If you cannot see, pull over and park with your hazard lights on until the rain clears.
- Do not drive into water of unknown depth and current.
What should I do after a storm?
- Assess your home and property for damage.
- Check on friends and neighbours to see if they need help.
- Stay away from flooded drains, rivers, streams and waterways.
- Keep away from fallen powerlines as they are dangerous and should always be treated as live.
- Be careful of fallen trees and damaged buildings.
- If driving slow down, keep a safe distance from other drivers and take care in areas that have been flooded.
Home Fire Safety
How can I protect my family and property from fire?
- Install mains powered smoke alarms and maintain them regularly.
- Develop and practise a household escape plan.
- Be alert when cooking and never leave food unattended.
- Never leave cigarettes to burn unattended.
- Never leave children unattended with candles, matches and lighters.
- Guard open fires with a mesh screen to prevent sparks and logs falling out.
- Clean chimney and flues regularly from built-up ash and soot.
- Only purchase fire blankets and extinguishers that meet Australian Standards.
- Know what to do if a person’s clothing catches on fire. Stop, drop, cover and roll.
- When installing heating systems always use a qualified tradesperson.
What should I do if a fire starts in my home?
Leave your home immediately, call triple zero (000) and wait for firefighters to arrive.