PEOPLE have been urged to add another task to their household chores - and it just might save their lives.

Fire chiefs want people to test the batteries in their smoke alarms regularly - ideally once a week.

The warning comes after it was revealed people without smoke detectors or ones without batteries in them are far more likely to die if their home catches fire.

Sir Graham Meldrum, HM Inspector of Fire Services, said: "You are twice as likely to die in a house fire if you do not have a working smoke alarm - so it is vital to think of fire safety while carrying out household chores.

"Make sure you own and maintain smoke alarms in your home.

"Get into a routine. It only takes a matter of seconds each week to test the alarm that could save your life."

To test each smoke alarm press the test button and hold it until the alarm sounds.

Dozens of people die in house fires each year where smoke detectors have failed to sound - often because the battery was removed to power something else, such as a child's toy.

Safety experts advise:

* Fit a smoke alarm on every level of your house - at the bottom of the staircase and further alarms on each stair landing are the best positions.

* The best place to fit an alarm is on the ceiling as near as possible to the centre of the room, hallway or landing. It should be at least 12in (30cm) away from any wall or light.

* Test each smoke alarm once a week.

* Change the battery in the alarm once a year unless it is a 10-year alarm.

* Twice a year open the alarm case and gently vacuum the inside using the cleaner's soft-brush attachment to remove dust. If the alarm case doesn't open, vacuum over the slots. Never paint over a smoke alarm.

* Replace the detector every 10 years