Did you know that fifty people die each year from household fires in Australia?
Did you also know that most of these deaths are preventable with a working smoke detector?
Smoke detectors are designed to alert you when a fire breaks out in the home. A great smoke detector will sound early enough to give you plenty of time to safely evacuate your home but won’t go off every time you burn your toast.
4 types of smoke detectors
It can be a difficult task to find the correct type of smoke detector for the different rooms in your home. Different smoke detector sensors work best at identifying different types of fire and should be placed in the correct areas throughout your home according to their use. By choosing the right type of smoke detector for each room of your house, you will reduce false alarms and ensure serious fire hazards are identified quickly.
1. Optical Smoke Detectors
Optical smoke detectors, also known as photoelectric smoke detectors, are effective at detecting smoke produced by slow-burning fires, such as upholstery and electrical fires. Optical smoke detectors are not as sensitive to fast flaming fires and should not be used as effective smoke detectors in areas that are prone to general household fumes, such as in the kitchen. Optical smoke detectors can be used in:
- Home Offices
2. Ionisation Smoke Detectors
Ionisation smoke detectors are the most common type of smoke detector found in homes across Australia and are effective in quickly alerting occupants of fast-spreading fires. While this type of smoke detector functions well in dustier areas, such as attics and garages or near an area of your home that is used for smoking, they are easily triggered by cooking and, like the optical smoke detector, should also not be fitted in the kitchen. Ionisation smoke detectors can be used in:
- Smoking areas
3. Heat Detectors
Heat detectors are designed to alert occupants when the heat in the room reaches a certain temperature. It’s advisable to install heat detectors in rooms that are prone to smoke and dust such as kitchens and garages because they will not trigger a false alert due to cooking fumes or exhaust smoke. Heat detectors can be used in:
4. Combined Smoke Detectors
Combined smoke detectors use optical and heat sensors to detect both smoke and heat to identify all types of fires. This type of smoke detector is best for alerting occupants of all fires, from slow smouldering to quickly spreading flames, and is effective in minimising the risk of false alarms. Combined smoke detectors can be used in:
- Home Offices
3 Factors to Consider When Buying A Smoke Detector
Smoke detectors are vital for maintaining safety in the home. When purchasing a smoke detector, many factors must be taken into consideration such as the power type, smart features and additional safety features that could save the lives of your loved ones.
1. Power Source
Hardwired Smoke Detectors
Smoke alarms that are hardwired are more reliable as they are connected to your home’s electricity supply. Once the smoke detector sets off an alarm, it will not stop until it is switched off. Most hardwired smoke alarms are fitted with a backup battery for operation during power outages.
Battery Smoke Detectors
Battery-operated smoke detectors solely run on the system’s batteries. While battery smoke detectors are generally cheaper than hardwired smoke detectors, using a smoke detector with weak batteries could pose a serious risk to your safety. Battery-operated smoke detectors will only sound the alarm for the duration of the battery life with no backup power system in place.
2. Smart Alarms
Smart smoke detectors are connected to your home’s Wi-Fi and allow you to access your smoke detector’s settings online. When the smoke detector detects a fire, it will alert you from your mobile device. Some smart smoke detectors can also be connected to other smart devices in the home.
3. Additional Features
Many newer models of smoke detectors come with a range of additional features that increase the effectiveness of the smoke detector and give you added security. Some of the additional smoke detector features you should consider include:
- Emergency lighting
- Wirelessly linking smoke alarms
- 10-year battery life
- Strobes and vibration pads for people with hearing impairments
Installing A Smoke Detector in Your Home
For smoke detectors to do their job properly, you will need to place a combination of smoke detectors in multiple locations throughout the house and perform regular tests to ensure your smoke alarms are still functioning normally.
Placement of Smoke Detectors
We recommend installing smoke detectors on the ceiling or high up on walls in the following locations:
- Every room including rooms that are rarely in use
- Directly outside bedrooms
- On every level of the building
- Near all stairways
- Within 2 metres of cooking appliances
How to Test Your Smoke Detector
Smoke detectors are an easy and affordable way to protect your family and home from fire. However, it’s important to regularly test the smoke detectors once a month to make sure that they are working properly.
Before you test your smoke alarm, you should warn the other members of your household, as the noise could startle them. It is also a good idea to ask a family member to stand at the opposite end of the house to ensure that the alarm can be heard clearly. Here’s how to test your smoke detector:
- Stand on a chair or step ladder to reach the smoke detector.
- Press the button on your smoke detector.
- If you hear a sound, your smoke detector is functioning normally.
If your smoke detector does not make a beeping sound, either the battery is failing, or your smoke alarm is not working – you will need to change the batteries and test the smoke detector again or have your smoke detector replaced.
Do you need fire protection management services in New South Wales?
Incidents of fire can happen at any time of the day. Here at Redmen, we recommend you install a smoke detector in every room of your home to prevent damage or injury if a fire were to break out. If you are not sure how to do this or you need fire protection management services in New South Wales, visit us at redmen.com.au or give us a call on 1300 733 636.
Statistics on fatal residential fires in Australia (2020): https://nationalseniors.com.au/news/latest/home-alone-fires-are-killers
Smoke alarm types and functions:
Smoke alarm placement: