I checked ours on Thursday, though not in the way I'd planned.
Thee are three fire alarms in our house. One which was fitted by law when I converted my garage into living space by an electrician. This gets a regular testing - pretty much every time I cook sausages! The other two were fitted about 3 years ago by a very tall fireman going door to door and doing assessments of people's houses and fitting alarms for free. He told me to test them every week. If I'm honest, I've probably done it about once a year.
Early last week though the one upstairs started beeping. "What's that?" asked a small voice. We went upstairs to see and there it was, flashing and beeping, for no apparent reason. And then it went off. Was it testing itself? Was that the battery dying and giving us a warning? Where did I put the instruction book? I made a mental note look it up sometime.
On Thursday we enjoyed some lovely weather for late October. We spent the morning at the veggie patch and then came home to have a quick lunch. My plan was that BB would then have a nap, whilst I did some computer work, and then we would get out into the backyard to do a few end of season jobs. BB had other plans though. He wanted to play outside first.
OK, I thought, lets go with that! The sun was shining, outside did look very inviting at that moment in time.
I left the back door open so that it was easy to come and go, and to get power for the lawnmower etc, but closed the internal doors so that we didn't lose any heat. We then set about our tasks. Maybe an hour later all was done, and we came inside, ready for a drink and a nap. As we were washing our hands I could smell smoke. Like a bonfire. That's odd, I thought, I didn't notice that when we were outside.
It was then that I remembered the beetroot!
With plan A of BB sleeping and me sitting at the desk, I had put some beetroot in a pan to boil and set the timer. Of course I didn't hear the timer outside. Nor did I notice that our kitchen was full of smoke and that the beetroot was actually on fire! The alarm hadn't gone off because the internal door was closed. Once I opened the kitchen door it soon did though. As did the one in the lounge and the one on the landing. I put the burning beetroot in the sink and added water, opened the windows and doors and turned on all the extractor fans. BB was quite scared and needed me to hold him throughout most of this process (not the bit where I was wrestling a can of flaming beetroot though!). Soon the smoke had cleared but we could now see that all the walls and cupboard doors were wet from the heat. My walls are now marked with sooty dribbles like these.
A fire on my cooker is about the worst possible thing that could happen in my house. Although it's brilliantly designed when it comes to making the most of every little bit of space, the cooker is actually under the stairs. If it did go, the fire would start at the top of the stairs, trapping anyone who was up there. What if BB had gone for a nap? What if I was 10 mins later finding it? Though it's unlikely that would have happened - I wouldn't have gone outside if he didn't, and if I do just a little job outside when he is asleep I do stick my head in the door every 5 mins or so to see if he woke up yet. But it is easy to get distracted. I will definitely be more aware in future.
Needless to say I have found the instructions for my fire alarms, and even tested them all again today. I have also been looking online at fire safety equipment for the home - like should I have an extinguisher just in case something does happen on my stove top? I found the www.sdfirealarms.co.uk website to be really helpful in terms of looking at what's available and what I could do, and I urge anyone who hasn't checked up on the fire safety in their home recently to learn from lucky escape and check your smoke detector right now!