Fires in and around the home cause approximately 5,000 fatalities every year within the EU. The number of injured is at least ten times higher. Approximately 80% of all fires happen inside the home. These are persuasive reasons to seriously consider what type of smoke detector will most greatly increase your safety and that of your home.
The most important thing you need to do in a house fire is leave the house as quickly as possible. A swift evacuation reduces the number of casualties. Smoke, especially in the early stages of a fire, is particularly dangerous. Smoke inhalation is both the direct and indirect cause of most deaths when a fatal fire occurs. Smoke detectors are an essential means of sounding the alarm for everyone inside the home, whether they are asleep or not.
Cheap DIY smoke detectors
The individual smoke detectors you can buy in your local DIY store often work with a 9V battery, which generally lasts a couple of years. The detector will send out sound signals when the battery starts to discharge. It will continue to do so on a regular basis and with large intervals (because you are not always at home) until the battery is fully discharged. When this happens at night, you need to immediately get out of bed and climb a ladder to change the battery. That is, if you have a replacement battery. If not, all too often (forgetful as we are) the discharged battery is taken out of the detector, but is never replaced by a new one. There goes our security.
For new builds and thorough renovation projects, we are better off using detectors with a 230V power supply. They contain a backup battery so that the detector will still work when the power goes out. This requires taking into account the appropriate wiring in the design of the home. And has the distinct advantage that you never have to get up in the middle of the night to replace the battery.
This type of detector is equipped with a transmitter and a receiver. When one detector goes into alarm mode, it will send out a signal to the other detectors that will in turn also generate an alarm. The big advantage is that every person in any room of the home is immediately notified. You do not know where the fire is, but that is not necessary since the main concern is evacuation. These detectors are available in both battery and 230V versions.
There are also detectors that can be equipped with an additional exit contact. This contact will close when the detector is in alarm mode. This is very useful when you are away from the home. The contact can be passed on to a module that delivers a text message to your mobile phone. In this way, you can return home as quickly as possible. The contact can also be passed on to an entry module of an Integrated Home System, which, in turn, will ensure that all non-essential devices (washing machine, dishwasher, heating, etc.) are turned off and that lighting paths are activated automatically. The latter can help people quickly evacuate the home (since smoke makes it harder to see) and make a safe escape. Such contacts require an additional cable to the switchboard.
What about the kitchen and bathroom?
Vapour and mist form on a regular basis in the bathroom. Something similar occurs in the kitchen, where cooking often produces smoke and visible steam. Traditional detectors will respond and sound the alarm, which is not pleasant when dinner is still cooking. These types of rooms are best equipped with detectors that are able to execute a double measurement. On the one hand, they detect smoke. On the other, they measure temperature. Both detections need to be ‘true’ before the alarm goes off.
Combinations of the previous types of detector are also available in the electronics store, as well as via your installer.