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HPM September 2017

98 T O O L S & E Q U I PME N T The sleeping liability Every year over six million people remove the batteries from their smoke alarm to stop nuisance alerts. Adrian Keats, of Honeywell’s Home Safety business, explains how installers can help to According to government figures, the number of UK homes including a smoke alarm has increased by a staggering 82% since 1988. While this is encouraging news, it doesn’t account for homes where a smoke alarm may be present but inactive. Between 2014-2015, 31% of all dwelling fires and 38% of all dwelling fire fatalities occurred in homes which included a smoke alarm that either was not operational or did not raise the alarm. This highlights the severe danger posed by deactivating an alarm, or allowing it to run out of battery. However, when a homeowner is troubled by regular nuisance alarms, removing the batteries can seem an attractive solution. Many of us, at one time or another, will have experienced a nuisance alarm – waving a tea towel in front of a smoke alarm after burning the toast – but by taking the batteries out, hazards much more serious than an over-sensitive alarm are created. The answer to this lies with alarm selection, and this is where installers have the opportunity to make a real impact. Many homeowners are likely to regard one alarm as much like another. However, by explaining the importance of selecting the right model, installers can provide customers with an effective smoke alarm which only issues alerts when it should. Optical vs ionisation By fitting the right alarm, this issue of a nuisance alarm can be avoided entirely. There are two types of smoke alarm, optical and ionisation, and they differ in several regards. Ionisation units are the oldest type of smoke alarm, and usually the cheapest. These react to small particles of smoke produced by fast flaming fires, and are generally more sensitive to cooking smoke than their optical counterparts. If a homeowner is having trouble with nuisance alerts, their smoke alarm is almost certainly an ionisation model. While the lower price point of ionisation alarms may seem attractive to homeowners, it’s important that installers highlight that they can be triggered by cooking fumes. This means they could end up disrupting the household on a regular basis, leading to battery removal, and putting residents at risk. A better recommendation is an optical alarm. These are more expensive than ionisation equivalents, but they offer a higher level of protection without the irritation of nuisance alarms. Optical units are able to detect slow flaming fires far quicker than ionisation models, which is absolutely key to the modern home. This is because these fires are commonly fuelled by upholstery, foam filled materials, or overheated PVC wiring – all staples of the average household. It’s also vital to communicate the necessity of choosing a high-quality alarm. While customers may be tempted to cut corners, it’s vital that installers explain why choosing a well-established brand which is properly approved and kitemarked to the relevant standard, is an absolute must. Sealed alarms Although an optical smoke alarm is highly unlikely to sound a nuisance alert, installers should still advise homeowners to choose sealed units where the batteries cannot be removed. Sealed options, especially those which can be locked to the wall, protect the alarm from damage or tampering. This is especially relevant for family homes, where younger members might attempt to remove batteries, for example, to reuse elsewhere in the home, like in a television remote. What’s more, battery powered sealed smoke alarms are just as reliable as wired-in models, but without the need for disruption of a home’s wiring, and without the possible risks attached to any damage which could come to a wired system. These sealed units can also last just as long as their wired-in equivalents with guaranteed maintenance free lifetimes of up to ten years. A working smoke alarm increases the odds of surviving a fire by up to 400%. So, by ensuring that customers choose a quality alarm, installers can help homeowners wake up to the sleeping liability of deactivated alarms, and possibly save lives in the process. combat this – and possibly save lives in the process www.hpmmag.com September 2017 enquiry number 168 “A working smoke alarm increases the odds of surviving by up to 400%” Installers can offer homeowners a solution to the nuisance alert by explaining the various options of smoke alarm available on the market that will provide much more accurate readings “Many homeowners are likely to regard one alarm as much like another”


HPM September 2017
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