Smoke and Heat Alarms
FACT : On average 46 people die in fires in Ireland every year. Tragically most of these deaths could have been prevented if a working smoke / heat alarm had been present in the home.
Did you know:
- Smoke inhalation, not heat or flames, causes the majority of fire deaths. It can take as little as 3 minutes to die from smoke inhalation.
Most fires happen at night when people are asleep. Smoke does not wake people up but can actually put them into a deeper sleep.
Why do we need a smoke alarm?
The purpose of a Smoke / Heat Alarm is to give an early warning of an outbreak of fire! If the Smoke / Heat Alarm activates, know what to do.
Make sure to:
✔ Plan an evacuation drill with all of your family and practice it regularly.
✔ When practicing your evacuation drill have an alternative exit in case your primary exit is blocked by fire.
✔ Have a meeting point in a safe place outside of the house.
✔ All escape routes should be kept clear day and night (….that means no schoolbags left in the way to trip over !!!)
✔ Keep keys to doors and windows easily and immediately available
Maintain your smoke/heat alarm
Smoke alarms require a small amount of maintenance to ensure it operates when needed:
(only a working smoke alarm saves lives!!)
✔ Test the smoke alarm once a week by pushing and holding the test button until it activates.
✔ Change the battery once every year.
✔ Every 6 months, vacuum and brush the casing to get rid of dust.
✔ Every 10 years, replace the smoke alarm.
How many smoke /heat alarms do I need?
✔ A smoke alarm in every room (except the bathroom) will provide maximum
protection. A heat alarm should be fitted in the kitchen.
✔ It is essential that smoke alarms are fitted in every hall and landing.
Where do I fit the smoke / heat alarms?
✔ On the ceiling as close to the center of the room as possible.
✔ Keep in mind your ability to hear the smoke alarm at night with the door closed.
Types of Alarms
“Ionisation” and “Optical”
1. Ionisation Smoke Alarm The cheapest and most common type. Very sensitive to small particles of smoke from “flaming” fires like chip pans. Will detect this type of fire before the smoke gets too thick.
2. Optical Smoke Alarm More expensive type but more effective at detecting larger particles from “slow burning” fires such as smouldering foam or P.V.C. wiring.
Heat alarms do not detect smoke at all but instead alert you to an unexpected rise in temperature.
Heat sensors are therefore ideal for kitchens because they do not give false alarms when cooking causes smoke or steam. They are also suitable for use in garages, as they won’t be triggered by exhaust fumes or dust from machinery, but should not be used in other rooms in the house, as they don’t provide a fast enough response to fire.
A combined or dual-sensor alarm contains both optical and heat sensors, so it can detect both smoke and heat. This allows it to respond quickly to all types of fire, whether that be a slow, smouldering fire or a fast-burning blaze.
In addition to this alarms can be
- Most smoke alarms are fitted with a battery, which must be replaced once a year. If the battery starts to run low, the alarm will alert you with an intermittent chirping noise. You should then replace the battery as soon as possible.
- You can also buy sealed alarms that come with a 10-year battery, meaning that you don’t need to worry about replacing the battery throughout the alarm’s life. You will need to replace the whole unit once the battery has run down, you will still need to test the battery weekly.
- Mains alarms are connected to your house’s electricity supply. They will also have an inbuilt battery to ensure that they will still function in the event of a power cut, you will still need to test the back up battery weekly
or interconnected alarms
- Interconnected alarms provide an additional level of safety by ensuring that if one alarm is triggered, all other alarms also sound. This means that no matter where you are in the property, you will be able to hear the alarms.
Whatever type of alarm or combination of units you choose, make sure to buy from a reputable source. Check that the alarm displays the BSI kitemark symbol and/or the CE Mark, showing that it complies with European safety standards. Read the instructions carefully and position it accordingly.