If you could invent something that would safe lives would you?

A working smoke detector cuts your risk of dying in a house fire in half. Most homeowners know you should change a smoke detector battery twice a year when you change the clocks for Daylight Saving Time. But what if I told you that many elderly or the disabled find this simple task impossible which puts their life in danger, simply because it’s not safe to climb a ladder to change a battery.

Most, if not all fire and rescue services offer what is commonly known as a Safe and Well visit, some fire and rescues may still call them Home Fire Risk Assessments or Home Fire Safety Checks. They can sound daunting to many people, especially the elderly.

A Safe and Well visit consists of members of your local fire and rescue service visiting your home, at a time convenient to yourself, to carry out an inspection of your home. The visit may be carried out by firefighters who are operational, so don’t be surprised if a fire engine arrives at your home.

Question! If you could design something that would prevent your smoke alarm beeping despite no smoke or fire, or to just simply make life easier to change a battery for the elderly, would you?

Colin’s parents lived in Staffordshire’s fire service area, so contacted that brigade and they carried out the HFRA. Few months after the inspection their smoke alarm kept beeping for now reason. Both were elderly and frail it was difficult to get access to the smoke alarm on the ceiling. So his Dad got a hammer apparently one night and smashed the smoke alarm off the ceiling. Leaving them unprotected.

So one night looking up at the ceiling Colin suddenly thought why could the we not simply lower the alarm down? which would make life easier for everyone not just the elderly. He found a corn flakes box and designed something that might work. Research took some time, and the patent process was started. Finally he prove his idea, and a metal prototype unit was manufactured. It was placed onto his ceiling, it worked, he could lower down the alarm to a safe working height, (locked in place) and then retract the alarm back to the ceiling. It sounds sound simple – yet nobody has come up with this idea before.

Colin said:

‘Retractalarm has been designed to be gently retracted back to the ceiling, being designed for the elderly and infirm I asked the test house to carry out the tests not gently retracting my unit with the alarm fitted but to just let it smash back as if it had been let go by accident. Reports proved my unit worked to its destruction,( the smoke alarms were still working after this testing) enough times to give retractalarm a life of ten years – We finally were awarded our patent.

After doing our own market research with the elderly and fire services, I was told I could make a lot of money from this idea. I replied – I’m not interested in money, that was and never would be my motivation, to help save a life is reward enough.’

RetractAlarm is a simple device that fits to your smoke alarm, enabling you to maintain, test, clean or replace the batteries quickly and easily, no more climbing up steps, no more balancing on furniture, no more standing on one leg leaning over the bannister!

Simply pull down your smoke alarm to your level and RetractAlarm will lock in place. Change the batteries, clean it, test it and when you’ve finished, a short pull down on the unit, and RetractAlarm will retract back to the ceiling….easy!

After all, why should saving your life be just out of reach?

You can Follow Retract Alarm on Twitter – @Retractalarm

Colin and son, Stuart Wills at the RetractAlarm stand Emergency Services Show



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