A false alarm is still alarming. Here’s why

Photo adapted from Nothing Ahead from Pexels - 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 that frozen bread you last toasted and the fresh bread is now being quickly overdone. The already-toasted crumbs are glowing red and gold and quickly 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 will trigger a central alarm system, in a block of flats, for instance, so that burned toast or an overzealous stove or microwave or oven could stir up quite a storm for some residents and agents. If a sprinkler system is involved, the situation gets far worse, with huge unnecessary 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, and premium increases in the coming year.

Photo by Nothing Ahead from Pexels - False Fire Alarm in Student Accommodation
Photo by Nothing Ahead from Pexels

The system could also be linked to the fire department and before you know it you have a street full of sirens, flashing lights, and fully geared-up disgruntled fire officers – something that will land you with a hefty fine nowadays. The more serious consequence, of course, is that they might be attending to your burnt toast while someone’s house or block of flats is ablaze in a different part of town. False alarms are not only a nuisance to all involved but also cost lives elsewhere.

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

Photo by Ferbugs from Pexels - Used matches
Photo by Ferbugs from Pexels

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

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

Proactive fire solutions such as Airis, which 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. So a small outlay in proactive fire management can save a huge cost further down the line, not to mention all the aggravation.

The Airis stove guard fire safety device protects an elderly couple while they cook on the stove.
Airis protects the stove proactively by stopping fires from starting, cutting the power in a dangerous situation.

With cooking being a major cause of fires and the tendency of elderly and other vulnerable people to be forgetful, Airis can reduce false alarms by acting early enough to minimise smoke as well as prevent fires. Independence is maintained, additional care costs are avoided and the resident and their loved ones can rest assured, knowing they are protected.

False Alarms and Mental Health

Photo by Matthias Zomer from Pexels - An Elderly Person Holding a Ball
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 could easily cause panic, or existing health problems to exacerbate unnecessarily and create a dangerous situation where aid is far away. This is especially prevalent in the wake of Grenfell where many residents questioned the integrity of their homes and how they could remain safe in the event of a fire.

A recent study by The UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence has shown that stress is further increased with Covid-19 leading to lockdown restrictions, workplaces being closed, increased enochlophobia (fear of crowded places), and so, much more time being 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? Perhaps if we all had one, we wouldn’t be tutting at fire alarms, but acting promptly and conscientiously to real calls for help, saving countless lives, and not wasting anyone’s time.

Thanks for reading!

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