How many smoke alarms do I need and where should they be located?
What do the Australian Standards say?
All homes should have at least 2 smoke alarms, but may need more depending on the size of the dwelling. According to the Building Code of Australia, a smoke alarm is required on every change of level inside a home, as well as within 1.5m of every bedroom door.
When we are asleep, we lose our sense of smell which eliminates one of our natural early warning systems for fire. This means that smoke alarms are vital for waking us up and giving us enough time to get to safety. If a smoke alarm is installed within 1.5m of each bedroom, you and your family should have no trouble being woken! Smoke alarms can be installed in bedrooms, but this is usually not preferred due to the ambient light from the indicator on the alarm. However in the case of people with a hearing impairment they should be installed in bedrooms and there are options available such as strobing lights or vibration pillow pads.
Are your smoke alarms in a ‘dead air’ zone?
Dead air is a space where air becomes trapped, which prevents smoke from moving into that area. If a smoke alarm is installed in a dead air zone, the smoke may not reach it to trigger the alarm.
So how do you avoid these dead air zones?
Dead air generally occurs in the corners of rooms, between exposed roof beams or at the top of cathedral ceilings.
Some places to avoid:
1. Corners of rooms – within 300mm of where 2 walls join
2. Near a draft – eg. A/C vents, windows that open and ceiling fans
3. Near steamy areas – eg. bathrooms, saunas
What do I do if my smoke alarms are in dead air?
If your smoke alarms are in a dead air zone, they will not be effective at detecting smoke. That means they’re not doing their job of keeping you and your family safe!
Get in contact with a licensed electrician to relocate your smoke alarms to more effective areas. While they’re there, why not consider upgrading to a hardwired rechargeable smoke alarm so that you don’t have to change the batteries for the life of the alarm!
Are your smoke alarms interconnected?
Interconnecting your smoke alarms means that all linked alarms will go off whenever a single smoke alarm detects smoke. This means that you are more likely to hear the alarm no matter where you are in the house, especially when you’re at your most vulnerable (when you’re sleeping).
The National Construction Code requires smoke alarms to be interconnected in any homes built or renovated since 2014.
There are two ways to interconnect your smoke alarms. The best option is to use hardwired interconnections throughout your home, however for tricky areas we can combine technologies and wirelessly interconnect inaccessible smoke alarms into the existing network. This can be helpful in multi-level homes, or in existing homes with inaccessible areas. Thanks to Clipsal’s innovative new smoke alarm, we can even interconnect battery-only smoke alarms wirelessly.