Fire safety – why smoke alarms shouldn’t be neglected

Fire safety – why smoke alarms shouldn’t be neglected

Smoke detectors aren’t an optional accessory for your home – they could mean the difference between life and death and installation should be prioritised at the earliest convenience.

According to Fire Service, every year fire and rescue teams are called out to around 50,000 house fires. Of these, nearly 500 result in deaths, while more than 11,000 people are left injured. These are devastating figures but the truth is many casualties could have been prevented had they had an early warning. Here, we take a look at why smoke alarms are such a vital commodity for every household.

What is a smoke alarm?

Arguably one of the most crucial safety fixtures in your home, the smoke alarm’s main function is to notify you with an audible alarm the moment smoke is suspected in the building. Given that many house fires begin when people are sleeping – between 12am and 6am – a smoke alarm is a hugely valuable piece of equipment that can buy precious minutes and save lives.

As Fire Service explains, you should have at least one smoke alarm on each floor of your house. However, it’s always worth bearing in mind that the more you install, the better the protection for you and your family.

There are four main types of smoke alarm. Ionisation alarms are sensitive to small particles of smoke from fast flaming fires, while optical alarms are more suitable for detecting slow-burning, smouldering fires. Heat alarms detect an increase in temperature from a fire and are insensitive to smoke (meaning they’re often ideal for kitchens). However, combined alarms are also an option to reduce false alarms and provide early detection.

Installation and maintenance

Always be sure to carefully follow the instructions when fitting a smoke alarm and for as much protection as possible install one in every room. Each device is best fitted to the ceiling as close to the centre of the room as possible and at least 30 centimetres away from any wall and light fitting.

While smoke alarms need very little maintenance throughout the course of their life, there are a few measures you should take to ensure the device is working. Be sure to do the following:

  • Test your smoke alarm weekly and regularly vacuum gently around the unit to pick up any dust.
  • Replace its batteries every year.
  • Change the whole unit every 10 years.
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  • Smoke alarms are fairly cheap pieces of equipment and require hardly any maintenance yet they save so many lives every year. When it comes to the safety of you and your family, it’s simply not worth the gamble.
  • by Ayshalee Morton

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