Fitting appropriate detection alarms can save your life, but what is right for you and your home.
Smoke alarms are essential for every home. They should be combined with heat alarms that are ideal for kitchens. You should have a carbon monoxide alarms if you have heating or cooking appliances fuelled by gas, coal, wood or oil.
There are special alarms for older people, people with disabilities or other special needs, like mains-powered smoke alarms with back-up batteries, and even vibrating pads and flashing lights that warn people who cannot hear well.
If you think someone would need help to escape a fire, it is important that they have a way of calling for help. This could be a phone that has been set up with a one-touch or automatically dialled emergency number, or it could be a private or local authority assistance alert scheme.
For advice about where you can get additional help consider contacting your local authority, housing association, social work department or your local community fire station. Our firefighters can help you in finding assistance.
How many smoke alarms does my home need?
The law on fire alarms is changing, meaning all Scottish homes will need to have interlinked alarms by February 2022.
Interlinked means if one goes off, they all go off, and it is the property owner’s responsibility for meeting the new standard.
By February 2022 every home must have:
- one smoke alarm in the living room or the room you use most
- one smoke alarm in every hallway or landing
- one heat alarm in the kitchen
All smoke and heat alarms should be mounted on the ceiling and be interlinked.
If you have a carbon-fuelled appliance – like a boiler, fire, heater or flue – in any room, you must also have a carbon monoxide detector in that room, but this does not need to be linked to the fire alarms.
Guidance and further information can be found via the Scottish Government website.
Where should I fit smoke alarms?
The best place for a smoke alarm is on the ceiling. Try and keep them 30cm (12 inches) away from any walls, lights, doors, heating or air-conditioning vents.
Test the alarm to make sure you can hear it loud and clear from every room in the house – even with the doors closed. If you can’t hear it, move it or fit more alarms. Ideally you want to have an alarm within 7 metres (22 feet) of the living room door and 3 metres (9 feet) of a bedroom door.
In homes with more than one level, fit alarms in the downstairs hallway and on every stair landing.
For extra safety, fit smoke alarms in the bedrooms too – this can help protect you while you sleep.
How do I stop false alarms?
Try not to fit smoke alarms too close to the kitchen door – steam and cooking fumes are the most common cause of false alarms.
You can get some smoke alarms that are specially designed for use close to kitchens. Others have ‘silence’ buttons that will stop the alarm sounding for a short time while the air clears.
You should have a heat alarm in your kitchen. Heat alarms can be used in places where there might be lots of steam or other fumes.
What tools and other bits will I need?
If fitting an alarm yourself, the alarm will come with screws and rawl plugs (the plastic sleeves needed when putting screws into plasterboard). You’ll need a screwdriver and possibly a drill. Read the instructions that come with the alarm for further information.
Looking after your smoke alarms
- Take the batteries out, even for a short time
- Paint over or put stickers on the smoke alarm
- Test your smoke alarm by pressing the ‘test’ button. If it doesn’t sound, fit a new battery. If it still doesn’t sound, fit a new alarm
- Replace the battery (unless you have a special ‘long-life’ alarm with a built in battery). Choose a date you’ll remember easily to do this, like a birthday or anniversary
- Keep it clean and dust free. Gently vacuum the inside and outside casing. If you’re decorating or doing something that creates a lot of dust, use an elastic band to secure a plastic bag over the smoke alarm casing – don’t forget to take it off when you’re done
Every ten years
- Replace each smoke alarm. The material inside smoke alarms that makes them work gets tired as it gets old.
Do you or someone you know have additional support needs?
There are special alarms for older people, people with disabilities or other special needs. Things like mains-powered smoke alarms with back-up batteries, and even vibrating pads and flashing lights that warn people who can’t hear well.
And, if you think someone would need help to escape a fire it’s important they have a way of calling for help. This could be a phone that’s been set up with a one-touch or automatically dialled emergency number, or it could be a private or local authority assistance alert scheme.