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Q & A

Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms

What make and type of alarm are suitable for a 60ft NB

Asked by: John Ford  | 5.01pm, Tuesday 2 December

WW says:

Generally, any domestic smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector is suitable- there is no current standard for marine versions. You will need to test them every time you are aboard- preferably weekly, if a liveaboard boat. It might be worth replacing them once a year or if they fail to work at any point.

There are two main types of smoke alarm: ionization and optical. The former works better with fast fires, the latter with slow burning ones. It may be prudent to fit both types- optical near the galley (less likely to go off when not required!) and an ionization one in the bedroom. Both types can have "hush" buttons to silence unwanted alarms.

Some types have emergency lights and this could be a bonus when trying to leave a smoke-filled boat. Others are interconnectable, which could also be useful.

CO detectors can be simple alarms, or, potentially more useful, have an LCD display to show CO concentration. Do not bother with the chemical disk types, as they only change colour in presence of carbon monoxide- and are not a proper warning device!

The positioning of a CO detector is open to debate, although head (or pillow) height fairly close to the main source of CO (probably a solid fuel fire or unbalanced flue boiler) may be the best.

As with all these products, look for the British Standard kitemark. Most DIY stores sell a wide range. The Boat Safety Scheme also has leaflets on keeping boats safe from fire, which are worth downloading and reading.

Mark Langley  | 9.49PM, Wednesday 17 December

Readers say:

I installed a CO detector. The next week I replaced large parts of my range. Moral - Better to wake up to a CO alarm than wake up dead.

If you google for Fire Angel you'll find their online store.

Also, their brand occasionally turns up on sale in Tesco.

Ray Butler  | 6.52PM, Monday 19 January

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