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How loud is a smoke alarm?

Fire & Security, Information

How loud is a smoke alarm may not warrant the ‘how long is a piece of string’ response, but there is no simple answer to how loud an alarm is beyond the obvious – very!

The reason that it is not a simple question to answer is that there are different types of smoke alarm that get used in different types of situation.

The average smoke alarm sold in the UK is required to produce a sound of 85 decibels from a distance of 3 metres. Everyone’s hearing ability is different and in different scenarios, you may be experiencing background noise that far exceeds 85 decibels. In an industrial working environment for example, anything beyond 85 decibels requires hearing protection.

The loudest football stadium in the UK has been measured as Anfield in Liverpool (2011) which recorded decibels levels of 97 with fans singing and chanting.

On the other end of the noise spectrum, a library is an average of just 30 decibels while an office environment, which is also quite quiet is around 60dB. In commercial setting such as an Office or Restaurant, Fire Alarm Systems that are fitted with smoke detectors/sounders are set at 15 decibels above the average sound level in the room.

Can a smoke alarm damage your hearing

The sheer volume of noise isn’t everything and the distance you are from the source of the sound and how long you are exposed to it is just as important as the noise. Sound intensity doubles with every increase of 3 decibels so even though the sound of a car horn  may not sound twice as loud as a vacuum cleaner, the intensity levels make it seem so. That is why, if you are working in a noisy environment with sound levels in the region of 80-85dB, you should be wearing protective hearing headsets.  For sounds in the region of 110 – 120dB, short exposure is enough to cause lasting hearing damage.

Prolonged and repeated exposure to loud noises can damage your hearing and if you stand next to a smoke alarm for a long period of time, it can damage your hearing – though the point of a smoke alarm is to get you out of the vicinity of a fire so this is rarely an issue. The louder the noise is and the longer you are exposed to it, the higher the risk to your hearing.

How loud is a smoke alarm on the other end of a house with closed doors?

Tests conducted using an 85 decibel smoke alarm show that from the other end of a standard UK built 3 bedroom home with doors closed, the sound drops to just 45dB which is around the same noise level as a loud cat meow.

Is that loud enough?

The Scottish Government are introducing interlinked smoke alarms for all homes to try and keep this sound level at a high value throughout the home. Is that enough is the subject of debate for many in the industry however. If you have ever slept through an alarm clock then you will know that loud noises are not always the be all end all.

What about those with hearing disabilities?

Fire can occur to anyone at anytime.  Those who are deaf or hard of hearing cannot rely on audible smoke alarms in the same way that those who good hearing can which means that there is a wide range of other smoke alarms available for hearing impaired individuals.

Find out more

Smoke alarms have, time and time again saved lives. whether it is in office space, an industrial facility, restaurant or your home, smoke alarms save lives yet too many people do not have adequate smoke alarm protection in their homes. It is the law that commercial premises have them fitted and it will be part of the Governments legislation from February 2022.

To find out more about Smoke Alarms and the options for your home or business please contact us today.




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