How your smartphone could save your life

How your smartphone could save your life

Modern smartphones are so smart they’re almost like a second brain, able to recall information, understand and respond to speech and even to change their clocks with the arrival and departure of British Summer Time.

There’s an app for this and an app for that, though the technology has just one weak link – its battery needs charging almost daily. But that’s not really a problem, is it? You can tell the battery’s getting low because the phone bleeps, that little indicator changes colour, and you can pop it on charge.

No doubt all your clocks were changed as we passed through the end of BST, including the ones you had to do yourself, and you’ve luxuriated in the extra hour in bed that gave you on Sunday morning. It’s likely that you’ve charged your phone at least once since then. But have you spared a thought for more important batteries?

Those are the ones in your smoke detectors. If your phone battery goes dead, it won’t kill you. If your smoke detector one does the same, well, it could turn out to be a very different story. Smoke detectors are the poor relation of the technology world, often overlooked for more glamorous other ‘must have’ technology. And yet they are so important. Clinging to the ceiling they’re on guard for the fire that can put you and your family at risk of death – not from the flames, but from the inhalation of smoke that will rapidly fill your home. When did you last check the battery on yours?

SmartphoneAnd why isn’t there a smartphone app to remind you when it’s time to change your smoke detector battery? Wouldn’t that be useful? Well, there already is, and if you have a smartphone, you have it already, bundled in with all the other goodies when you bought the phone. It’s part of the calendar function and it allows you to set a reminder – which could save your life.

(And you should never overlook the possibilities for innocent amusement offered by testing a smoke detector battery outside the bedroom door of a teenager refusing to get out of bed. That makes the prospect of daily testing really appealing…)

Types of smoke detectors

1. Ionising alarms monitor electrically-charged particles called ions. They sound when they sense a change in the electrical balance of the atmosphere caused by smoke particles entering their sensor.

2. Photoelectric alarms are triggered when smoke deflects or blocks the passage of a beam of light.

We have a great deal more information about selecting, fitting and maintaining your smoke alarm in our advice page article “Safety in the home – Smoke alarms” offered as text and with a useful video, which offers some statistics you may find startling….

Picture: Maxreisgo, Dreamstime.com

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