Don't just test your smoke detector
Older relatives or neighbours might find it hard to reach their smoke alarm by pushing the ‘test’ button on every smoke alarm, you could save the lives of your nearest and dearest – children, parents and friends alike. Half the people who died in home fires last year were over 65 years old, so they are at a far greater risk.
A working smoke alarm can buy you and your loved ones valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999. Did you know you’re four times more likely to die in a fire if your smoke alarm is not working? In 2012 there were 30,709* accidental fires in the home across the country, and fifteen children’s lives were lost.
*source Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service.
A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999. Make sure you fit one on every level of your home and test them regularly, make testing your smoke alarm part of your household routine.
Test the alarm by pressing the button regularly; change your battery once a year or invest in a 10-year alarm; and clean the alarm casing twice a year to ensure dust isn't blocking the sensor. Never remove the battery in your smoke alarm and make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do in a fire and practise your escape route
Domestic Smoke alarms can be purchased from Firewatch, but it is not a product we promote, they are more readily available and competively priced from the major DIY stores and Supermarkets – just buy one or two for your family’s sake!
How many do you need?
The more alarms you have, the safer you'll be. At minimum you should have one on each floor. However, if you have only one alarm and two floors, put it somewhere you'll be able to hear it when you're asleep. If you have a TV or other large electrical appliance (such as a computer) in any of the bedrooms, you should fit a smoke alarm there too.
Choosing a smoke alarm
There are two types of smoke alarm:
These are the cheapest and most readily available and are very sensitive to flaming fires (ones that burn fiercely such as chip-pan fires). Ionisation alarms will detect flaming fires before the smoke gets too thick.
These are more expensive and more effective at detecting slow-burning fires (such as smouldering foam-filled furniture or overheated wiring). Optical alarms are less likely to go off accidentally and so are best for ground-floor hallways and for homes on one level. For the best protection, you should install one of each. However, if you can't have both, it's still safer to have either one, rather than none at all.
British Standard Kitemark
Whichever model you choose, you should make sure that it meets British Standard 5446, Part 1 (BS 5446-1) and ideally also carries the British Standard Kitemark.
Devon & Somerset fire and rescue service