Alarms

​You’re four times more likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a smoke alarm that works. The easiest way to protect your home and family from fire is with working smoke alarms.

 Get them. Install them. Test them. They could save your life.

Helpful tips on smoke alarms are available within the 'Fire safety in the home' leaflet (Gov.UK).

  • ​Fit at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home.
  • Standard battery operated alarms are the cheapest option, but the batteries need to be replaced every year – remember to regularly test your alarms.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for fitting the smoke alarm.
  • A heat alarm can be used in the kitchen instead of a smoke alarm. Instead of detecting smoke these alarms are sensitive to changes in temperature and so won’t give false alarms from cooking fumes.
  • Test all of your smoke alarms when you install them and then at least once a month.
  • If your alarms need batteries buy good quality batteries, longer life batteries are better. If any of your smoke alarms have a one year battery, make sure it is changed every year.
  • Only take the battery out when you need to replace it; never disconnect or take the batteries out of your alarm if it goes off by mistake.
  • Testing smoke alarms tests the smoke sensor as well as the power supply and/or battery.
  • Test your smoke alarms regularly (at least once a month) by pressing the button until the alarm sounds.
  • If the alarm does not sound when tested, the battery needs to be replaced; if the alarm starts to beep on a regular basis with no signs of fire, you need to replace the battery immediately.

If it is difficult for you to fit smoke alarms yourself, ask a friend or family member to help you. Alternatively, please visit our home fire safety check page for advice.

Living in shared or rented accommodation

If you are a tenant and rent your property, your landlord or housing provider have a legal responsibility  to ensure you have working  smoke alarms at the start of your tenancy. For more information, please read the information within the fire safety in shared or rented accommodation guidance leaflet.  

Smoke alarms for the deaf and hard of hearing

Strobe light and vibrating pad alarms are available for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. It may be useful to consider if other types of alerters would also be helpful in daily living. Alerters can often be linked to one system rather than needing lots of different pieces of equipment.

Contact the 'Action on Hearing Loss' information line on 0808 808 0123 or textphone 0808 808 9000 or visit their website (Action on Hearing Loss) for further information.

​You can't see it, taste it or smell it but it can kill quickly and with no warning. Unsafe gas appliances produce a highly poisonous gas called carbon monoxide (CO). It can cause death as well as serious long-term health problems such as brain damage.

Carbon monoxide poisoning - what are the symptoms?

Common symptoms include headaches, nausea, breathlessness, collapse, dizziness and loss of consciousness.

Carbon monoxide symptoms are similar to flu, food poisoning, viral infections and simply tiredness. That's why it's quite common for people to mistake this very dangerous poisoning for something else.

Other signs that could point to carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Your symptoms only occur when you are at home and disappear or get better when you leave home and come back when you return.
  • Others in your household are experiencing symptoms (including your pets) and they appear at a similar time.

What is carbon monoxide poisoning?

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when you breathe in even small amounts of the gas.
  • When you breathe in carbon monoxide, it gets into your blood stream and prevents your red blood cells from carrying oxygen. Without oxygen, your body tissue and cells die.
  • Levels that do not kill can cause serious harm to health when inhaled over a long period of time. Long term effects of carbon monoxide poisoning include paralysis and brain damage.

Signs that carbon monoxide could be in your home

  • The flame on your cooker, fire or boiler should be crisp and blue, yellow or orange flames mean you need to get your appliances checked.
  • Soot or dark staining around or on appliances.
  • Pilot lights that frequently blow out.
  • Increased condensation inside windows.

If you have a faulty appliance in your home, it could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Get it checked as soon as possible by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Why should I get a carbon monoxide alarm?

  • Because carbon monoxide has no taste, smell or colour you should fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm in your home.
  • While an alarm will alert you to carbon monoxide in your home, it is no substitute for using a Gas Safe registered engineer.
  • A carbon monoxide alarm looks similar to a smoke alarm and is very easy to fit by following the manufacturer's instructions. You can purchase a carbon monoxide alarm for around £15 at your local DIY store, supermarket or from your energy supplier.
  • Before purchasing a carbon monoxide alarm, always make sure it is officially approved to BS:EN50291:2001 or BS:EN50291:2010. It must have a British or European approval mark on it, such as a Kitemark.
  • You are particularly at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping, as you may not be aware of early carbon monoxide symptoms until it's too late. Do not use the ‘black spot' detectors that change colour when carbon monoxide is present. These will not make a sound to wake you up if the poisonous gas is present while you are sleeping.

For further information and to find a register of qualified gas engineers, please go to the Gas Safe website.

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