Every year the NZ Fire Service attend more than 3,500 house fires. In 80% of the fatal fires they attend smoke alarms are either not installed or not working.
Many fire fatalities happen at night when people are sleeping and don’t smell the smoke. Working smoke alarms are the best way to make sure you and your family get an early warning of a fire so you can get out alive.
Where should I put smoke alarms?
Smoke rises and moves along the ceiling. It will move up stairwells and vertical openings. When it can’t rise anymore it will build up, working its way down again. This means placing your smoke alarms on the ceiling will get you the earliest possible warning. If you must position it on the wall put it 100mm away from the ceiling to avoid dead air pockets.
We recommend installing long-life photoelectric type smoke alarms in every bedroom, living area, and hallway – on every level in the house. However this is not always practical. We suggest at an absolute minimum that a long-life photoelectric type smoke alarm should be installed in the hallway closest to the bedrooms. Buy and install other smoke alarms as you can afford them.
We recommend smoke alarms are both interconnected and hard-wired to your home’s electrical wiring. Interconnected means when 1 smoke alarm detects a fire all alarms throughout the house will sound even when they are on opposite sides of a closed door or on different levels of a house. Hard-wired smoke alarms are connected to mains power. This makes them more reliable.
Where not to put them
There are different types of alarms for different locations within the home. Installing smoke alarms in the wrong place can cause nuisance alarms.
Don’t install a smoke alarm in your kitchen. Smoke and heat from cooking (and the toaster) can activate the alarm. For the same reason smoke alarms shouldn’t be installed in the bathroom, or laundry either.
What sort of smoke alarm should I install?
We recommend you install long-life photoelectric type smoke alarms in your home. They may cost a little more but the benefits are significant.
They provide a about 10 years smoke detection. They remove the frustration of fixing the ‘flat battery beep’ at inconvenient times such as at 3 in the morning. The cost of replacement batteries for standard alarms means the long-life one effectively pays for itself over its lifetime. You don’t have to climb ladders every year to replace batteries.
But, at a minimum, you should install one standard long-life photoelectric type alarm in the hallway closest to the bedrooms.