How to choose the right smoke alarm

testing smoke alarm

We often forgot about smoke alarms until you suddenly burn the toast and have to ventilate your room to stop the high pitch alarm that alerts the neighbourhood.

But despite the embarrassment they can cause, alarms provide a high level of fire protection for you and your family.  To make sure you get the best out of your smoke alarm, it’s important to know what types are available and where you should put them.

What do smoke alarms do?

Smoke alarms and detectors are small devices which are usually fitted to the ceiling.  They have built in sensors which detect smoke if a fire breaks out, and alert you with a loud noise and sometimes flashes of light.  They’re designed to distinguish between dangerous levels of smoke and when you’ve simply overdone the roasties. But it’s not unknown for them to sometimes be a little too sensitive!

What type of smoke alarms are available?

The most common smoke alarms are ionisation or optical sensors. They both detect smoke particles caused by fires, which then sets off the alarm.  Others are purely sensitive to heat, or can be triggered by both smoke and heat.

Which alarm should I choose?

Some are more easily triggered than others. Depending on the type and model, it’s best to seek professional advice for your circumstances. The UK Fire Service recommends:

  • For kitchens and garages: heat alarms
  • For landings: ionisation smoke alarms, or combined smoke and heat alarms
  • For bedrooms, living rooms and hallways: optical smoke alarms or combined optical smoke and heat alarms.

Where do I fit my smoke alarm?

Smoke alarms are usually placed on ceilings, often inside or just outside kitchens, and at the top of stairs by bedrooms.

How to look after my smoke alarm

It’s best to test alarms at least once a year – usually done by simply pushing a big button for a few seconds. You might need to change the batteries every 12 months.  Also, look out for any dust building up, which you should try to brush or vacuum off.

Useful information

If you need more advice on alarms or need to test if your alarm is fit for purpose, contact us today.

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