Every year we attend more than 3,500 house fires. In 80 percent of the fatal fires the Fire Service 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.
Install smoke alarms in or near each bedroom, and in the lounge and hallways. Don't put them in the kitchen, garage or bathroom unless they are designed specifically for use in those areas.
There are two types of alarms - ionization and photoelectric.
A photoelectric alarm is more suitable for kitchens as it is less sensitive to cooking smoke.
Smoke rises and moves along the ceiling; it will move up stairwells and vertical openings. It is therefore important to place smoke detectors on the ceiling to get the earliest warning. If you have to position a smoke detector on the wall, it should be 100mm below the ceiling to avoid dead air pockets.
Make sure you change the batteries every year (the beginning of daylight saving is a good time to remember). Clean and test the alarms once a month; spider webs or dust can stop them working. It is recommended that you replace them every ten years.
You can call your local fire station for advice on where to install smoke alarms and for assistance with installation for older people and people with disabilities.
Whanganui District Council have a fire safety referral form on their website for those who would like the Fire Service to provide them advice. You can find the form on the Whanganui District Council's website.
Where not to put smoke alarms
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.