Smoke alarms make properties safer

Between April 2012 and March 2013 no smoke alarm was present in 12,800 (31%) of fires in the home.  A smoke alarm was present but did not operate in a further 19%.


Dwelling fires in which smoke alarms raise the alarm continue to:

- be discovered more rapidly (less than 5 minutes) after ignition;

- be associated with lower fatal casualty rates

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Check that your smoke alarm is either a photo-electric or optical detector. The packaging your smoke alarm came in will state what type it is. These are designed to detect a broad range of fires including smouldering synthetic materials, which are extremely common in most homes.

Location is everything

Always put smoke alarms where you will be able to hear them throughout the home, particularly when you are asleep or when doors are closed. 

If you are fitting a smoke alarm in a flat, put the alarm between the living area and bedrooms. If you are in a house, fit one alarm at the bottom of the staircase and another on each landing.

Fit smoke alarms on the ceiling, as near as possible to the centre of the room, hallway or landing at least 30cms away from any wall or light fitting. 

It is important a smoke alarm can be reached easily so it can be tested each week.

Where not to fit your smoke alarm

Do not fit a smoke alarm in or near to the kitchen or bathroom where cooking fumes and steam can set it off accidentally. Equally, do not put one in a garage where exhaust fumes can set it off.

Do not fit a smoke alarm on damp or dusty surfaces or false ceilings, as there is a risk it will fall down.

Test a smoke alarm regularly

A faulty smoke alarm may cost lives. Test a smoke alarm every week using the test button. Every six months, open it and gently vacuum inside to remove dust. If it does not open, vacuum through the holes. Then, each year, replace the battery unless it is a fixed-life smoke alarm with a pre-determined lifespan.



In 2012/13 nearly one third of fire deaths occurred in properties where smoke alarms were not fitted

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