It is best to fit alarms in every room in your house, except the bathroom and kitchen as alarms may be set off accidentally by smoke and steam. At the very least one should be fitted on every level of your home, ensuring that they are positioned so at least one of them will wake you up.

There are a number of different interconnected smoke alarms on the market, and whichever you choose it is essential that they conform to the appropriate standards. Your local fire officer will help you if you are unsure.

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Standard smoke alarms come in two choices; ionisation alarms and optical alarms and they detect different types of fires. Ionisation alarms are the least expensive and the most common. These mainly detect the flames in fires, such as those coming from a frying pan.

The optical alarms are sensitive to fires that burn slowly, such as those coming from electrical wiring. These are also less likely to be set off by mistake and so are more suitable for downstairs or single story homes.

Installation of an alarm is a simple task only taking a few minutes and not requiring any special skills – you only need to read the instructions that come with it. It is best to place the alarm a distance of a foot, or 300mm, away from a wall or light socket. Your local fire service will help you if you find you have any problems.

To ensure the alarm is in proper working order, you should test the alarm at least once a week. 

Of course having a smoke alarm is not enough to protect your home from a fire, but it is the most important aspect of any fire protection plan. If properly looked after such a simple, inexpensive device may end up saving the life of you and your family.