How Many Smoke Alarms Do I Need?

March 28, 2024 By Jenny-mcintosh

Picture this: you’re cosied up at home, maybe cooking dinner or watching your favourite show. Suddenly, you catch a whiff of smoke or smell something burning. It’s a jolt to your senses: a warning that something isn’t right. But what happens when you’re asleep? Or when you’re upstairs, away from the source of the fire? Sometimes, you just won’t be able to tell when danger is looming. That’s where smoke alarms step in as your fire safety sentinels, ready to alert you at the first hint of danger.

Where Should I Install Smoke Alarms?

Now, the big question: “How many do I need?” Think of smoke alarm installation as hiring a vigilant safety team for your home, each member stationed strategically to cover every corner. For your home to be up to code in Australia, you need to have a smoke alarm installed on every floor. However, more comprehensive coverage will leave no room for doubt. Let’s break down smoke alarm placement further:

Inside Every Bedroom

Your bedroom is your sanctuary, where you rest and recharge. Installing a smoke alarm here ensures you’re alerted immediately if a fire breaks out while you’re asleep. A not-very-fun fact: deeply sleeping people have no sense of smell. It’s also recommended that you sleep with your bedroom doors closed. In a fire, your door will help contain the flames and help keep you safe.

Outside Each Sleeping Area

The hallways leading to bedrooms are lifelines during an emergency. Placing smoke alarms here ensures that even if a fire starts outside your room, you’ll still be alerted swiftly — before it becomes too difficult to exit. One fire safety tip: before going through a door during a fire, check if the door’s wood or the metal of the door handle feels hot to the touch. If the doorknob is too hot to handle, there’s fire on the other side.

On Every Level

Now, this is an easy one, as you should (hopefully) already have smoke alarms on every floor — assuming your building is up to code. Fires can start anywhere, from the ground floor to the third. Having alarms on each level of your home provides early detection, giving you and your loved ones more time to escape safely.

Basements & Attics

Often overlooked, these areas are not immune to fire hazards. Whether protecting against a faulty electrical wire or stored flammable materials, installing smoke alarms in basements and attics adds an extra layer of protection. We know that attics and basements aren’t particularly common in Australia, but you should still consider the roof cavity and the crawl space beneath your house. A fire starting (unbeknownst to you) in either area could be catastrophic.

How Important Is Maintenance & Installation?

Unfortunately, this isn’t a simple numbers game. It’s not just about having the correct quantity of smoke alarms; it’s also about keeping them in top-notch condition. Regular maintenance is key! Test and clean your alarms monthly, replace batteries annually (unless they’re 10-year lithium batteries), and replace the entire unit every 10 years.

You should also make sure a licensed electrician completes your smoke alarm installation. If your home was constructed after 1997, your smoke alarms must be connected to 240V mains power and have a backup battery. With this in mind, only a licensed electrician is authorised to carry out these works.

Building authorities and fire rescue organisations recommend interconnected units so that when any alarm activates, all smoke alarms will sound. You can have interconnected smoke alarms even if you have battery-powered units. Interconnected smoke alarms can be hard-wired or powered by a 10-year lithium battery. Hard-wired units will require a licensed electrician.

Stay Safe With McIntosh Electrical

Remember, when it comes to fire safety, every alarm counts. So go ahead and take the necessary steps to safeguard your home and loved ones. Because — peace of mind? That’s priceless.
Here at McIntosh Electrical, your safety is our priority. We’re here to ensure your home is equipped with the best quality smoke alarm installation and defence against fire hazards. If you need help installing, maintaining or upgrading your smoke alarms, reach out to our team of experts today!