A false alarm is still alarming – here’s why…

Smoke drifts upward from an oil pan with the title text "False Alarms" emerging from the smoke
Photo adapted from Nothing Ahead from Pexels

The toaster smokes away happily in the corner on the kitchen counter. It hasn’t been turned down since you toasted that frozen bread and the fresh bread is now being overdone. The already-toasted crumbs are glowing red and gold and fading one by one in the tray. The warm bread smell drifts up to the ceiling and kicks the smoke detector into a frenzy causing panicked footsteps to come rushing. At the least, that’s all it calls for. Sometimes it calls for much more.

Linked detectors and false callouts

An emergency fire alarm break glass call point shown on a cream colooured wall
Photo by Nothing Ahead from Pexels

In a block of flats, linked detectors will trigger a central alarm system. So that burned toast or overzealous stove could stir up quite a storm for the residents. If a sprinkler system is present, the situation gets far worse. There will be huge cleaning and repair costs to resolve issues caused by the water damage. Not to mention the laborious battle with the insurers to recoup some of the money. Potential rehousing is also a factor, and premium increases in the coming year.

The system may also be linked to the fire department. And before you know it you have a street full of sirens, flashing lights, and upset fire officers. Something that will land you with a hefty fine nowadays. The more serious consequence, of course, is that they are attending to your burnt toast while someone else’s house is on fire in a different part of town. False alarms are not only a nuisance to all involved but also cost lives elsewhere.

Complacency and confusion

Matches lined up and burned to various stages
Photo by Ferbugs from Pexels

What’s more, false alarms propagate a culture of complacency. Ignoring legitimate emergencies and wasting precious time and resources. How many times have you heard a car or burglar alarm in the street outside and barely raised an eyebrow? Or been in an office with a fire alarm buzzing away only to condemn it to being nonsense? Turning your gaze back to those reports or client emails that need doing? We’ve all been guilty of that, I’m certain.

A safety device might react in a situation when it didn’t need to. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, but it also shows that the device is not behaving as it should.

In the home, a false alarm might be a mild inconvenience. In flats, student accommodation or care homes it can result in widespread disruption. Leaving people unable to work or study. Or worse – vulnerable people confused and anxious and support staff run ragged until the “all clear” is given by the authorities.

Proactive fire solutions

A vulnerable elderly couple cook together in a kitchen protected by Airis stove guard
Airis protects the stove proactively by stopping fires from starting, cutting the power in a dangerous situation.

Proactive fire solutions such as Airis,

that prevent smoke and false alarms before they occur are a simple and effective solution. Leaving the alarm systems to deal with real fires in real emergencies and save lives. A small outlay in proactive fire management can save a huge cost further down the line. Not to mention all the aggravation.

With cooking being a major cause of fires and the tendency for elderly and other vulnerable people to be forgetful, false alarms are a real issue. Airis can cut these by acting early enough to minimise smoke and prevent fires. Independence is maintained, extra care costs are avoided. And the resident and their loved ones can rest assured knowing they’re protected.

False alarms and mental health

A vulnerable elderly person comforted by a carer after a false alarm
Photo by Matthias Zomer from Pexels

For a vulnerable or elderly person living alone, alarm activations can be distressing. The simple act of burning toast or smoking oil can cause panic. Or exacerbate existing health problems and create a dangerous situation where aid is far away. This is especially prevalent in the wake of Grenfell. Now many residents question the integrity of their homes and how they can remain safe in the event of a fire.

A recent study by The UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence has shown that stress increased with the arrival of Covid-19. Lockdown restrictions, workplaces closing, increasing enochlophobia (fear of crowded places) are all factors. And so, much more time was spent at home which can lead to poorer mental health. It’s clear the landscape is changing rapidly and fire safety policy is slow to catch up. Should we not be staying ahead of the game when solutions like Airis already exist at an affordable cost? If we all had one, we wouldn’t be tutting at fire alarms. But acting immediately to real calls for help. We’d be saving countless lives, and not wasting anyone’s time.

It’s food for thought, no?

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