Smoke Alarms

A smoke alarm could help save your home, and your life. Test it weekly and never remove the batteries.

How many smoke alarms does my home need?

If your home is on one level – a flat or bungalow – you need to fit at least one smoke alarm. If your home has more than one level, you’ll need one on each floor. If you have more than one alarm, they should be linked up to each other.

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.

There are other systems too – like heat detectors – that 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.

Or, save yourself hassle and money by getting a smoke alarm fitted in your home absolutely free when you request a Home Fire Safety Visit. Easy!

Looking after your smoke alarm


  • Take the batteries out, even for a short time
  • Paint over or put stickers on the smoke alarm

Every week

  • 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

Every year

  • 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.
Additional support for you or other people

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.

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