BERLIN (DPA/TMN) — Even from deep sleep, smoke alarms with their piercing warning tone are about to get people in an emergency — a fire in a home or apartment could save lives. But devices can really save only if they are hung in the right places in the room. Professionals suggest:
Location in house:
Smoke alarms are required by law in bedrooms, children’s rooms and in the area of emergency exits, ie in the hallway leading to the stairwell or front door. In Berlin and Brandenburg, all possible common rooms should also be equipped with warning devices – such as living rooms. This applies to new and old buildings, with the exception of existing buildings in Saxony.
A common room:
The smoke alarm should be “attached to the ceiling as centrally as possible, with a clear distance from the walls and corners,” says Rainer Metzger of the Stiftung Warntest. This distance should be at least half a meter, even better a meter. If the distance to the wall or ceiling elements, but also less to the lamps, the air around the device may not circulate well – and so the smoke may not reach the sensor as quickly.
Circulation is also the reason why, according to the Fire Smoke Prevention Forum, smoke detectors should not be installed near air ducts or where there is strong draft. Because the smoke will initially go there instead of just triggering the alarm directly.
Furnishings can also become a problem: “We keep seeing that smoke detectors are initially attached correctly, but then at some point they are distributed along a cupboard or a shelf,” says Rainer Metzger. “Tools must remain free.”
Rooms with very large rooms or room dividers:
“A smoke detector mounted centrally on the ceiling safely covers rooms of up to 60 square meters,” says Norbert Schaaf
Fire Smoke Prevention Forum, Large rooms, but also rooms that are divided by floor-to-ceiling shelves or cupboards, therefore require additional smoke detectors.
Very tall rooms and top floor:
Too tall rooms are problematic. The devices are designed for ceiling heights of up to six meters. In some lofts or halls, that’s not enough, Schaaf says.
The reason for this is a physical phenomenon: “In every room, hot air rises under the ceiling and forms an invisible cushion of heat there,” explains the fire safety expert. In high rooms, this air cushion is so thick that smoke cannot penetrate and reach the warning devices above it. This is why smoke alarms with rods on the ceiling should be directed deep into the room.
The same phenomenon occurs in rooms with open gables under roofs. Here too, the smoke detector should not be attached too much. The Fire Smoke Prevention Forum recommends a distance of 0.5 to 1 meter from the tip.
And it depends on the sloping ceiling: according to experts, at a slight slope, the smoke detector can be attached directly to the sloping ceiling. If the inclination exceeds 20 degrees, the equipment should be hung in a horizontal position with the aids attached.
An exception are rooms with sloping ceilings and a horizontal central section of at least one meter: this is exactly where the smoke detector is.
Kitchen and Bathroom:
Smoke detectors are unsuitable for bathrooms because the water vapor here will trigger a series of false alarms. “The risk of fire here is also low,” Metzger says.
The situation is different in the kitchen, where the stove is a potential hazard. Here, too, smoke detectors reach their limits, says product expert Metzger: “They’ll be triggered if you lift the lid off the saucepan or open a hot oven.” Therefore, heat detectors or stove alarms are better lifesavers in the kitchen.
Press the test button on the smoke detector every six months
Do you have five minutes left today? Because that’s all it takes to test and clean a smoke detector.
1. Briefly press
The built-in test button should be turned on every six months to check battery performance. According to the Fire Smoke Prevention Forum, if the detector does not emit a beep after a few seconds, the function is interrupted. The battery or the entire device should then be replaced.
There are devices with removable batteries and models with lithium batteries that cannot be replaced. With regard to the entire assumed service life, the cost of both types is approximately the same.
Dirty equipment is wiped with a damp cloth without detergent. Smoke detectors should never be opened.
Pollution, as well as strong cigarette or candle smoke and foreign objects such as insects or dust that have entered the smoke chamber, can trigger a false alarm. Therefore, from time to time the openings through which smoke should enter should be checked. If they are damaged or heavily soiled, the smoke detector will need to be replaced.
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