Getting a smoke alarm can help save lives and save your home. There's no good excuse for not getting one, you can buy a basic model for a few pounds. They provide two basic functions, to detect a fire and warn you about it, by means of an alarm.
Once you have decided which type of smoke alarm to buy, ionisation, optical or a combined model, you need to know where and how to fit it. For the purpose of HowTo video, we have chosen a standard battery powered smoke alarm. The battery needs to be replaced every 12 months, although you can now buy sealed alarms fitted with 10 and 15 year batteries. Mains powered alarms do away with the cost of fitting and checking a battery, but should be installed by a qualified electrician.
The number of some alarms you fit depends on your personal circumstances. The more you have, the safer you'll be. If your home is on one floor, a minimum of one optical smoke alarm can provide you with early warning of a fire. If your home has more than one floor, at least one alarm should be fitted on each level, probably on the hall and landing ceilings. Positioning of the alarm is very important. Do not fit an alarm in the kitchen or bathroom as cooking fumes or steam may set it off.
To fit your alarm you'll probably need a sturdy pair of step ladders and the tools specified in the Your alarm should be screwed into the ceiling, as close to the centre of the room as possible, but at least 12 inches away from a wall or light fitting. It must be fitted in a place that can be heard throughout the home, especially if you're asleep. If your home is on one level, you should fit the alarm in the hallway between the living and sleeping areas. If you have two floors, place an alarm at the top of the stairs leading to the bedrooms, where you can hear it when you're asleep.
Always follow the manufacturers instructions at all times, this is particularly important if you are installing mains powered alarms.
There are some handy tips which can ensure that you have effective alarms.Set aside just a few minutes each year to check your alarm is working - this could save your life and the lives of your family. Once a week, test each alarm you have by depressing the test button until the alarm sounds. Once a year change the battery (unless it's a 10 or 15 year battery). Every six months open the case and gently vacuum the inside to remove dust from the sensors. If it's sealed, vacuum through the vents. Every 10 years, buy a whole new alarm.If you ensure your alarms are properly fitted, sited and maintained, it can give you precious extra minutes to escape from a fire in the home. Always check your battery, replace it when necessary, and never ever remove it for any other purposes. And don't be tempted to fit an alarm yourself if you feel unsteady or unsure about the procedure - you could fall and hurt yourself. You can get more advice from your local fire service.