Air-conditioner fires on the increase = greater need for smoke detectors in bedrooms
I was pleased to see that the mainstream media were issuing a warning this morning about the high incidence of air-conditioners. As I reported at the start of the year, the electricity authority in my area advised that they had attended 3 fires caused by air-conditioners on Christmas Day alone.
I have been in a room where an old window rattler caught fire but luckily I was able to turn off the power and extinguish the fire as it was in its very earliest stage.
In preparation of this post I checked the US stats and found that in
2014, air conditioning, fans, or related equipment were involved in an estimated 7,800 reported U.S. home structure fires. Sadly, 50 people died and 260 were sent to the hospital with injuries.
With the period of hot weather forecast across South East Australia on the way, the use of air-conditioners will no doubt be at a maximum.
At the same time, I have been reporting each week the items being recalled in Australia and electrical appliances of all types feature prominently. For example, in January this year we saw a recall on the Seeley International Pty Ltd Braemar SCHF21C3S and Braemar SCHF25C3S Outdoor Air Conditioner Units. In reality, anything electrical, clock radios, powerboards etc are a potential ignition point for a fire.
Putting this aside and returning to air-conditioners as a cause of fires, we often see that to maximize the benefit of the unit, the door to the room that it is cooling is closed.
This means that any smoke detectors located outside the room are ineffectual and there is a very real risk of occupants in the room being overcome by smoke while sleeping long before the alarm is raised.
More than ever, it is a basic risk management measure to protect both your family and property to install smoke detectors in bedrooms and in any room which has an air-conditioner.
As I have reported, the technology around smoke detectors has improved enormously with some boasting carbon monoxide detection in the same unit. At the top of the range, the units are linked and will speak to you to advise which room the fire is in.
Even inexpensive ones now have batteries that last 10 years, negating the need to climb up ladders and change out the battery every year. The higher end ones warn you in advance so that you do not get the chirping sound which invariably starts at 2am in the morning.
The investment is not huge starting at around $40 for a basic battery operated unit up to circa $170 for the Nest combined smoke and carbon monoxide units that are linked to your mobile phone as well as each other. Ideally, they are hard wired but only need 240 volt power with no need for a communication wire between each unit as you see with other wired in units.
As if on queue as I was typing this, I received a “heads up” notification from my own Nest to say that there was some smoke in our TV/Theatre Room. Trades were working in there and had used a grinder to cut away some concrete and that was enough to trigger the unit and have them stop. I then got the message shown saying the “smoke was clearing”.
While I think the Nest unit is a fantastic product, please do your own research. Also, shop around for the best deal. Nest is available at Officeworks, Harvey Norman and a number of other retailers around Australia, although most stores only carry a limited stock.