Tips for Keeping These Pieces of Home Safety Equipment Up to Par and In Top Shape
Whether you own or rent a home, apartment, or a commercial building, it’s important to follow fire safety regulations.
Testing fire systems is a matter of life or death. A malfunctioning fire alarm system or smoke detector might not sound in the event of a real fire, which poses a greater risk for your property, assets, and the lives of individuals and occupants in your building.
So test regularly, be cautious, and stay up to date with regular fire alarm tests.
Testing Commercial Fire Alarm Systems
Fire alarm systems protect people, assets, and property. But like all technology, these systems may deteriorate or malfunction at times. To make sure they’re still working properly, it’s crucial for your company to test your fire alarm system regularly.
Stay informed and compliant with local, provincial, and federal regulations for fire alarm testing. If not, your insurance policy may become void – which is the least of your concerns. Far more pressing is the serious risk posed by an actual fire. There’s potential for severe injury or death, not to mention damage and destruction of property.
Here are some guidelines for when to test your fire alarm system:
Check the Manufacturer’s Guidelines
Testing guidelines vary by system manufacturers, but many recommend testing immediately after installing a new fire alarm system, and usually at least once a year. Keep in mind that testing the system isn’t necessarily a proper fire drill, though. If you are planning on a comprehensive test of your systems, then plan to line it up with a proper fire drill for building occupants.
Follow Local & National Fire Code Guidelines
Depending on your type of business, building, and location, you will have to follow specific local fire code guidelines for testing. For example, the Ontario fire code states that the fire alarm panel should be inspected daily to make sure the system is operational. It also states that fire alarm systems should be tested, inspected, and maintained annually by a qualified and permitted fire alarm company or technician.
Your property insurance company will also have its own guidelines. It’s imperative that you follow these as well so you don’t void your insurance policy.
Always stay compliant with testing guidelines to maintain the safety of your property, its occupants, and assets.
Testing Home Safety Systems
Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
In the event of a fire, smoke inhalation presents a far more serious threat than an open flame. In confined spaces, burning materials can create carbon monoxide, which can spread quickly through these spaces and pose sever danger to occupants. Carbon monoxide (CO) is colourless and odourless, and can quickly cause severe symptoms in human occupants affected by CO poisoning.
But fires aren’t the only cause of CO buildup, which is why a functional CO detector is a must in your home. Carbon monoxide can build up as a result of any of these factors:
- Running an engine in a closed garage
- Blocked chimneys or flues
- Cooking or heating devices that are poorly or improperly installed
- Bad ventilation in any room
- Faulty or damaged cooking and heating appliances and equipment
- Burning any kind of fuel indoors with improper ventilation
- Paint fumes or cleaning solution fumes accumulating in a room
You should test your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors once a month to make sure they’re still working properly. If you rent, your landlord may schedule semi-annual checks. That being said, if you ever notice an issue with your detector, contact your landlord immediately. They should work promptly to replace or repair a broken or faulty detector.
Be sure to change detector batteries at least once a year, and make sure these detectors are appropriately located in your home. You should have at least one smoke detector on each floor of your home. Otherwise, your carbon monoxide detector should be centrally located near gas appliances and fireplaces.
Home Security Systems
If your home is equipped with a home security system, such as an intruder alarm, you want to make sure it’s operating effectively. Regular testing means you’ve got peace of mind in the event of a break-in attempt. Typically, these security systems trigger silent or audible alarms to alert police and homeowners.
You should also test your home security system at least once a month, and any time after:
- Service technicians complete work in your home. Mistakes do happen, and these technicians could have disabled your system and forgotten to switch it back on, or inadvertently compromised your security system.
- You complete renovations in your home. Just like the above point, mistakes happen. A quick test of your system will let you know if you accidentally damaged part of the component or connections.
- You make changes to your home phone and Internet services. These changes could disrupt your security system communication.
When you’re ready to test your security system, refer to the instructions from the equipment manufacturer or the security company who installed the system. You should test all components of the system, including:
- Motion sensors
- Window and door sensors
- Glass break detectors
- CO and smoke detectors
While it may take time to test every component and system in your home, it’s worth it to ensure everything is working properly and to maintain peace of mind about your home’s safety.
A simple test can make a difference in the outcomes of fires and other emergencies. So stay on top of testing your security and fire alarm systems.