You are more than twice as likely to die in a fire at home if you haven’t got a working smoke alarm. A smoke alarm is the easiest way to alert you to the danger of fire, giving you time to escape. They are cheap, easy to get hold of and easy to fit.
How many smoke alarms do you need?
The more alarms you have, the safer you’ll be – as long as they are working – so make sure you test them weekly. Fit a smoke alarm to the ceiling, on each level of your home – it’s the simplest step you can take to cut the risk of dying as a result of a fire in your home. You should have a minimum of one alarm on each level. However, if you have only one alarm and two floors, put it somewhere you’ll be able to hear it when you’re asleep. If you have a large electrical appliance, like a computer, in any of the bedrooms, you should fit a smoke alarm there too. It is also recommended that you fit a smoke alarm to any room that has a high sleeper or bunk beds.
You should also make sure you test your smoke alarm weekly.
Installing your smoke alarm
The best place for your smoke alarm is on the ceiling, near or at the middle of the room or hall. The alarm should be at least 30cm (one foot) away from a wall or light. If it is difficult for you to fit your smoke alarm yourself, ask a family member or friend to help you. It usually takes a few minutes to install your smoke alarm yourself – just follow the manufacturer’s instructions that come with it.
Humberside Fire and Rescue Service offers free home safety visits. This involves a member of our staff visiting your home and offering fire safety advice for you and your household. They may be able to install your smoke alarm for free. To see if you are eligible for one of these visits, please call 0300 303 8242 or visit www.humbersidefire.gov.uk
Maintaining your smoke alarm
To keep your smoke alarm in good working order, you should:
- Test it once a week by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds
- Change the battery once a year (unless it is a 10-year alarm)
- Replace the whole unit every 10 years
- Never remove the batteries apart from when replacing them.
Choosing a smoke alarm
For the best protection, you should install one of each type described below. However, if you can’t have both, it’s still safer to have either one, rather than none at all. There are two types of smoke alarm:
- Ionisation alarms are the cheapest and most readily available smoke alarms. They are also very sensitive to ‘flaming fires’ – fires that burn fiercely, like chip-pan fires. Ionisation alarms will detect flaming fires before the smoke gets too thick.
- Optical alarms are more expensive. However, they are more effective at detecting slow-burning fires, like smouldering foam-filled furniture or overheated wiring. Optical alarms are less likely to go off accidentally and so are best for ground-floor hallways and for homes on one level.
Check your smoke alarm every week it could save your life.
To enquire about general home fire safety advice and smoke alarms, please call 0300 303 8242.