A father who narrowly escaped a basement fire along with his daughter has opened up about their harrowing experience.
Andy from Deal lost numerous belongings in the blaze, but said that it could have been far worse had the fire alarms not been working.
The father of one, who asked for his surname to be omitted, had been watching television with his daughter on May 14 when his smoke alarm in the hallway sounded.
His daughter went to investigate, thinking it might be a false alarm.
However, when she did she saw "sheets of flames" shooting out of the basement door,
Andy said that if the alarm had not gone off, the pair would have quickly been"overwhelmed".
"We’ve lost a lot, including some sentimental items, but the most important thing is that we’re alive,” he added.
"Having smoke alarms ensured we had that extra bit of time to get out - otherwise the toxic fumes would have overwhelmed us.
"That alarm saved our lives. It meant we were allowed to leave the house and call 999 for the fire service, who were great."
The fire, which is believed to have started from an electrical battery, almost destroyed the pair's basement, along with their belongings – with extensive smoke and soot damage affecting the rest of the house.
But firefighters said that if it wasn’t for the smoke alarm alerting them in the early stages of the blaze, things would have been a lot worse.
Andy said that it was hard to fight the instinct to try and retrieve precious belongings from the flames.
"All you're thinking is 'that's my stuff', but everything is replaceable and the most important thing is staying safe," he said.
"So if you hear the smoke alarm, just get outside. Don’t fight the fire yourself, don’t even think about it – just go outside and call 999.
“And if you don’t have smoke alarms at home, you really need them - without them, you could be putting yourself at risk if there’s a fire."
KFRS Area Manager of Customer and Building Safety Leanne McMahon, says: “If there is a fire in your home, a smoke alarm will immediately warn you, giving everyone time to escape. Smoke alarms are cheap, available in most high street stores, supermarkets and DIY stores, and are easy to fit and maintain.”
“You can protect your family at home by ensuring you have smoke alarms fitted on each floor of your property and by testing them once a week. You should always fit them where you will be able to hear them throughout the home – at least one alarm on each level of your home is recommended.”
Kent Fire and Rescue Service provides free advice on fitting smoke alarms at home. If you need advice, call the home safety team on 0800 923 7000 or email email@example.com