When it comes to the safety of your home, a smoke alarm is an essential piece of equipment.
When it comes to the safety of your home, a smoke alarm is an essential piece of equipment. The UK Fire Service estimate that they are called to over 600,000 fires each year, 50,000 of which are house fires. That means that there are 140 house fires on average every day in the UK. They also estimate that house fires are the cause of 500 deaths and 11,000 injuries each year. What’s more, you’re twice as likely to die in a house fire if you don’t have working smoke alarms fitted in your property. This guide will give you information on different fire alarm types, where you should place them, how to maintain them and how to fit a battery powered smoke alarm in your home.
There are several types of smoke alarm, each with their own unique way of detecting a potential fire. These alarms are suited to placement in different areas of your house; the more properly fitted alarms, the more protection you have. It’s important to note that you don’t need to fit a fire alarm in your bathroom as steam from hot water can cause the alarm to go off.
Ionisation smoke alarms tend to be the cheapest of the bunch. They work by sensing particles of smoke and are very sensitive. We would recommend that you don’t place an ionisation smoke alarm in your kitchen as it will be triggered by even the smallest particle of smoke caused by burnt toast for example.
Optical smoke alarms are more expensive than ionisation alarms, however they’re more sensitive to smouldering flames that would come from a burning sofa, burning wire or mattresses. These fire alarms ‘see’ smoke, detecting larger particles and are slightly less sensitive to small particles that would come from burnt toast, however we still recommend that you don’t place one in your kitchen to avoid annoying, false alarms.
Heat alarms are ideal for use in places where smoke, steam or fumes are frequently present in the air. A heat detector will, as the name suggests, detect temperature increases but aren’t sensitive to smoke. These alarms tend to cover a small area so if you’re fitting one in a large kitchen, then it’s best to fit two.
There tends to be two types of combined smoke alarm: heat and optical alarms and smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Heat and optical combination alarms use multiple sensors for efficient and effective fire detection, reducing the number of false alarms and – more importantly – making for speedier detection of fires.
You can buy radio-interlinked smoke alarms that go off in unison when one of them detects smoke or heat, meaning that you’ll be alerted to potential danger no matter where you are in the house.
While smoke alarms can either be battery-powered or mains-powered, most mains-powered alarms will be combination in case of power shortages in the mains. Mains-powered smoke alarms must be fitted in any new builds or after any major refurbishment, and must be fitted by a qualified electrician. If you are simply replacing a broken or old fire alarm in your current property, you can still install a battery powered alarm.
NB: Ensure that the smoke alarms you choose to fit in your property are certified to British and European standards.
Ensuring that your smoke alarm in good working condition and testing it regularly could save lives. We recommend: