A guide to installing smoke alarms

If there is one device that every home in the country should have installed, it is a smoke alarm. Now readily available in many stores, both in the high street and online, at very reasonable prices, there really is no excuse not to have one. A smoke alarm could save your life.

As reported on the official website of the UK Fire Service, there are over 50,000 fires that break out in homes across the country every year. The number of injuries caused by these fires could be halved with the presence of working smoke alarms in the properties.

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Types of smoke alarm

The vast majority of smoke alarms are very easy to install and maintain and are relatively inexpensive to purchase. Some local authorities around the country even give out free smoke alarms to those most at risk.

Ionisation smoke alarms are the most common type and the cheapest to purchase. These are excellent for detecting small smoke particles that emanate from flaming fires, such as those caused by a chip pan. Slow-burning fires which give off larger smoke particles are better detected by optical smoke alarms. Combined alarms which detect both sorts of smoke are also available or you could just install more than one alarm, one of each type, to be absolutely sure.

Most smoke alarms are battery powered, usually requiring a 9 volt (9V) battery. These are the rectangular batteries which are actually made up of six different 1.5 volt batteries. It is recommended that the battery is changed in your smoke alarm once every 12 months.

In addition to battery powered alarms, you can now purchase detectors which work off the mains. These should be installed by a qualified electrician and a back-up battery is still recommended in case of any power cuts.

Positioning the alarm

The location of the smoke alarms in your home is very important. While the alarms need to be able to detect possible dangers, you also do not want to be constantly disturbed by false readings. This can occur when smoke alarms are installed in kitchens where there are cooking fumes and in bathrooms where steam is likely to set the alarms off. It is also inadvisable to locate one in a garage as fumes from car exhausts can also set them off.

When you have decided on a suitable location, ensure the smoke alarm is fitted to the ceiling as close to the middle of the room as possible. Try to keep the alarm at least a foot away from any light fittings. At least one smoke alarm on each floor of your house is advisable. The upstairs alarm is probably best fitted on the ceiling at the top of the stairs. Wherever you decide to fit the alarms, you should be able to hear them from any room in the house.

Fitting a smoke alarm is a simple and inexpensive procedure that could one day end up saving your life.

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