The Importance of having a Smoke Alarm in your Home (16/11/2021)

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Fire is one of the deadliest risks that homeowners can face. Few people realise how quickly and easily a fire can start in the home. In the unfortunate event of a fire, you could risk losing your home to major damage, obtain serious injuries, the possibility of death, and even complete destruction of the property. Having a smoke alarm in the home is so important and is critical for the early detection of a fire. Smoke alarms save lives, provided they are properly installed and maintained on a regular basis. Studies show that fewer people get seriously hurt or die in a fire when their homes have well-maintained smoke alarms. Below, we reveal why it is so important to have a working smoke alarm in the home.

What is a Smoke Alarm?

A smoke alarm is a device designed specifically to detect smoke. When there is smoke detected, it will sound a loud alarm. If there is a fire in the home, the smoke will spread fast so having a properly maintained smoke alarm will give you sufficient time to get out of the property. Did you know that in a house fire, the main cause of injury and death is smoke inhalation rather than burns? The most common house fires happen at night when people are asleep. You cannot smell the smoke when you are asleep. Smoke inhalation puts you into a deeper sleep. Most people die from smoke inhalation and breathing in poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide. Therefore, it is crucial to have properly installed smoke alarms in every location of the home to allow for fast and effective detection.

Types of Smoke Alarms and How they Work?

There are 2 types of smoke alarms, Photoelectric and Ionization. Knowing the difference between the two could potentially save your life.

Photoelectric Smoke Alarm

Photoelectric detectors use a light sensor and a light source to detect smoke. If there is smoke present in the home and it enters the detection chamber of the alarm, the smoke particles block the light beam and partially reflect light onto the sensors. The alarm is then tripped. This type of home alarm system detects slow burning smouldering fires.

Ionization Smoke Alarm

The ionization alarm uses ionized particles which detect the presence of smoke. The smoke alarm holds a small amount of radioactive material, which is placed between 2 electrically charged plates. When the 2 components react, it causes ionization of air. A current is then created between the 2 plates. When smoke enters the chamber, the current is disrupted, and the alarm is then triggered. This type of alarm detects aggressive, open and fast flames.

The Importance of Smoke Alarms in the Home

Regardless of how small or big the home is, it is always best to have a working smoke alarm placed in different locations around the house. Here are some of the main reasons as to why they are important:

  • Quick response time
  • Avoid inhalation of the smoke
  • Early detection
  • Easy to install and affordable
  • 24/7 monitoring
  • Minimises your costs

Where do you install Smoke Alarms?

Depending on the type of house you live in, a smoke alarm should be installed on every level of the house, in hallways, the kitchen, and in bedrooms. Aim to have one in every room so smoke can be detected as early as possible. Ideally, every room should have an alarm except those that may cause a lot of steam such as the bathroom.

Maintenance tips for your Smoke Alarm

Smoke alarms get old and stop working efficiently. In order to ensure that your smoke alarms are working effectively, you must check them regularly.

Test the Alarm

It is recommended that you test the alarm once a month every month. This will ensure the battery is working properly and not dead. Press and hold the test button located on the front of the alarm until you hear a loud beep.

Replace the Battery

It is recommended that you replace the battery with a new one once a year. When the battery is low, the alarm will detect this and emit a short beeping sound for a few minutes. Never ignore this and always change the battery immediately.

To change the batteries, you must locate where the battery compartment is. Generally, with most alarms, the top of the compartment will remove by turning it or by pressing the 2 small levers at both sides of the alarm. Once you have found the battery, remove it, and replace it with a new one.

Clean the Alarm

Wipe around the alarm regularly with a cloth to keep it clean and to remove any dust particles. Some manufacturers recommended hoovering with a small brush around the vents. If dust is present, it could prevent the alarm from working.

Buy a New Alarm

Smoke alarms have an expiry date of 10 years. Buy a new alarm once it has reached its expiry date. Even if they appear to be working, it is still recommended to replace them.

Smoke detectors make a huge difference in reducing the danger of fire in the home. The ideal place to install a smoke alarm is the ceiling. Remember, smoke rises so the alarm will detect it rapidly. They are very affordable, they save lives, and require very little maintenance.

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