Smoke alarms

The warning a smoke alarm provides can save your life. But what is right for you in your home? Here are our tips on choosing, installing and maintaining your smoke alarms. Advice on how many you need, where to put them and what to do if your smoke alarm keeps going off. 

There are different types of smoke alarms for people who have conditions that may make escape difficult or are vulnerable. We have a separate page containing advice about smoke alarms for vulnerable people.

A home safety technician installing a FireAngel smoke alarm.
A home safety technician installing a FireAngel smoke alarm

If your smoke alarm is...

…making an intermittent bleeping noise

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  • Check that your smoke alarm is definitely the source of the bleeping make sure the noise isn't coming from another alarm (smoke/carbon monoxide/gas/burglar alarm) by process of elimination.
  • If it beeps every minute or so this could be a ‘low battery' warning. This can also occur with hard-wired alarms (mains connected) as there is often a battery back up in the event of a power cut. 
  • Some alarms can be silenced by pressing the central test button. Your smoke alarm will still detect smoke during this time of low battery warning silence. 
  • Replace your alarm or its battery immediately, and certainly within seven days, as your alarm may then have insufficient power to warn you of a real fire situation after this time.

…sounding in a (non-emergency)

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Smoke alarms can sometimes react to cooking fumes, candle flames or other non-emergency situations. In the event of a false alarm: 

  • press and release the central test button
  • this will pause your alarm. It will then automatically return to full sensitivity within 10 minutes.

Choosing a smoke alarm

Where to put smoke alarms 

We recommend you have a smoke alarm in your hallway and also one at the top of your stairs. You could also have smoke alarms in your bedrooms. 

We don’t recommend smoke alarms for kitchens due to them going off when cooking, if you want an alarm in the kitchen for extra protection, it should be a heat alarm.

How many smoke alarms do I need? 

The more alarms you have, the safer you'll be. As a minimum, you should have one on each level of your home. 

Smoke alarm or heat alarm – what's the difference? 

Smoke alarms detect smoke. We don’t recommend smoke alarms for kitchens due to them going off when cooking but if you want an alarm in the kitchen it should be a heat alarm.

In smoky or steamy rooms like your kitchen or bathroom, a heat alarm is more suitable. These alarms go off when the room reaches a certain temperature. They are just as easy to fit as smoke alarms, and you can buy them for as little as £10 from DIY stores and online.
 

Other types of alarm detection

Some battery or mains alarms can be inter-linked, so that when one alarm detects a fire they all go off together, giving you warning wherever you are in your home. 

It's also possible to fit extra automatic 'fire suppression' systems at home – that's things like sprinklers. These are a great idea if there's anything that might prevent you escaping quickly. 
 

Installing your smoke alarm 

Installing a smoke alarm only takes a few minutes - just follow the manufacturer's instructions. 

Smoke alarms should always be mounted on the ceiling, near the middle of the room or hall, and at least 30cm (one foot) away from a wall or light. 
 

Troubleshooting 

It’s always best to read the manufacturer instructions for your particular alarm system. If you don’t have these to hand, find a copy online by looking up the make and model on the internet. 
 

In the event of a fire: get out, stay out and call 999.