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What types of alarms should you have at home?

There are numerous alarms that you could use in your home to keep both you and your belongings safe.

October 19, 2020

Types of alarms at home

The alarms you have in your home are not only there to make you feel safe, but they could even save your life one day. Their main purpose is to alert you to threats such as gas leaks, fires or burglars, and they could protect your home and its content from damage or theft. This is why these alarms are so important. 

Below, you can find information on the four different types of alarms you should have in your home, and why they are important.


1. Smoke alarms

 A smoke alarm, or smoke detector, is a device that makes a loud noise when it senses smoke in the air. There are two types: ionisation and optical alarms. 

Ionisation alarms are the more popular option in the UK because they are relatively cheap. Within these alarms is an ionisation chamber that contains ions and electrons. These particles are able to move around freely in the chamber, creating a current that allows the alarm to stay silent. When smoke enters this ionisation chamber, its particles attach to the ions, breaking the current and causing the alarm to sound.

Optical alarms use a light beam to detect smoke. The device contains a chamber that houses an electronic light detector. When there is no smoke, a light beam shines into the chamber but doesn’t reach this light detector. However, if smoke enters the chamber, it scatters the light beam, causing it to trigger the electronic light detector and making the alarm sound. 

You only need one of these types of alarm in your home. As already stated, the former is cheaper and the most popular. They can either run off your home’s main electricity supply or by battery. 

Hearing loss in elderly is a common problem. For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, other kinds of smoke alarms are available that can alert you to a problem without making a noise. This could include a flashing light or a vibrating pad that can be placed under your mattress while you sleep. When the detector senses smoke, it will cause the pad to vibrate, waking you up and keeping you safe from a potential fire.

You can even have a monitored smoke alarm that alerts an alarm monitoring centre and sounds an alarm. No wiring is required and these are a good solution if you already have a personal alarm, or may not hear an alarm or could find it difficult to get out of your home quickly in an emergency.


Where to place smoke alarms in the home

The location of your smoke detector is very important. For instance, you don’t want to be alerted to false alarms or have your alarm go off every time you burn the toast. Therefore, it may be more beneficial to put a smoke detector in a dining or living room. For the kitchen, it may be better to have a heat alarm that will detect a large temperature increase rather than smoke or gas to prevent these false alarms.


2. Burglar Alarms

Burglar alarms are not only excellent at alerting you or the neighbours to the presence of intruders in your home, they’re also a great deterrent.


Should I get a burglar alarm?

While a house alarm cannot guarantee that your house will never be broken into, they are an excellent deterrent. It’s important that the alarm has an external box that can be seen from any public roads or footpaths around your home.

These alarms can generally be set for the whole house or zoned so you can choose which rooms the alarm is monitoring. This is particularly useful for people who have pets that sleep in a kitchen or utility room. There are even smart alarms that will alert you to movement in your home via text if you’re not in.


Are burglar alarms effective?

Burglar alarms can be effective, however they should be used alongside other security measures to make them even more effective, including window and door locks, security lights and even CCTV.


3. Carbon monoxide alarm

Carbon monoxide is a gas that cannot be detected by sight or smell. It is colourless and odourless, however it’s dangerous if it’s inhaled even over a short period of time. This is why carbon monoxide alarms are so important. A gas boiler that isn’t burning properly can leak carbon monoxide into your home. Equally, if the flue is blocked, the gas won’t be able to escape outside and may come back into your home. A range of other appliances can also cause carbon monoxide leaks, including gas cookers, wood stoves and gas and solid fuel fires. 

You should place a carbon monoxide alarm approximately one to two metres from all of these appliances in your home. Should they sense this substance, they will beep and alert you to an issue, allowing you to have the appliance fixed as soon as possible and keeping you and your family safe.


4. Personal Alarms

Emergency alarms for the elderly , that also come as a pendant, can be pressed should an incident occur at home. Once the button has been pressed, a 24-hour emergency response team will contact you to make sure you’re okay and send help out if required. This makes wrist alarms for the elderly ideal should you suffer a fall or trip while at home alone.

These assistive devices are small and can be worn under clothing around your neck so that they stay out of the way and can’t be seen. However, it may put your mind at ease knowing it’s there and you can get help should an accident happen. They’re waterproof too, so make sure you keep it on while in the shower or bathtub, where slips are more likely to occur. Browse our in-home personal alarms

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

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Ways to support independent living

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

Download brochure