Gadgets to make your home a safer place

From an electrical storm to burglary, technology can help protect your equipment and family from unforeseen emergencies.

When the unexpected happens, you can save yourself time, money and heartache by being prepared. Fortunately there are plenty of gadgets on offer to help you tackle everyday emergencies.

We’ve selected some devices that will help protect your equipment from damage, detect poisonous gas, turn off gadgets remotely and allow you to monitor your home from anywhere in the world. 

[Read more: Connected gadgets? The internet of things explained]

Surge Protector

A surge protector will guard your electrical equipment against electrical spikes and surges. These spikes occur after a power cut, a lightning strike or electrical load switching and could cause permanent damage to a device.

A surge protector works by absorbing excess voltage, thus limiting the amount that passes to the connected equipment.

Surge protectors typically look like strip extension leads with multiple sockets. Single versions are available.

Surge protector

Before you buy it’s important to differentiate between a surge protector and an extension lead - not every power strip offers surge protection so make sure you check.

Power spikes don’t just come through the mains power either, they can come through communication cables. Some protectors some include ports for cables such as phone, Ethernet and USB.

At the affordable end of the market you can get the Belkin 4-Way Economy Surge Protector  while the Belkin 6 Way Surge Protection Strip  includes two USB ports.

Carbon monoxide detector

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that kills 50 people a year in the UK. Caused by faulty or poorly ventilated gas, oil or solid fuel appliances, it’s odourless and colourless nature makes it hard to spot, so an alarm is essential.

In October 2015 it became law for private landlords to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties.

The Health and Safety Executive recommends an audible carbon monoxide alarm. It should comply with the British Standard EN 50291 and carry a British or European approval mark, such as a Kitemark. Choose one that gives a warning you when it’s reaching the end of its life.

Nest Protect

Amazon has a range of carbon monoxide alarms, look for a device that includes a long warranty.

Lasting 10 years the Nest Protect  is slightly more high-tech. On detecting smoke or Carbon Monoxide it emits an alert that’s a human voice and 85dB siren.

Connecting via wi-fi, the Nest companion app alerts you wherever you are if the alarm goes off and you can silence it using your phone, instead of standing on a chair.

[Read more: Carbon monoxide poisoning - everything you need to know]

Smart plug

Have you ever left home and had a niggling feeling you’ve left the iron plugged in? Even if there isn’t an immediate fire risk, you will be wasting electricity.

A smart plug solves the problem by letting you turn off electrical devices remotely. 

Smart plugs fit into standard plug sockets and connect to your home wi-fi network. Using a compatible smartphone or tablet app, you can switch them off remotely.

Hive Active Plug

The Hive Active Plug  works with Android, Apple and Amazon devices. Six schedules let you choose when things are turned on and off, so you can turn your lights or a heater on at a certain time each evening.  It needs the Hive Hub (£79.98), which you’ll have if you own the Hive Active Heating system, to work.

The Belkin WeMo Insight Switch does a similar job. Use the WeMo App to set schedules and receive personalised notifications, such as when your washing machine has finished. You can also track how much energy devices plugged in use.

Security camera

The falling price of parts - such as cameras - coupled with the rise in wi-fi-connected devices means it needn’t cost much to install a security camera in your home.

Pair the camera to your wi-fi network and set it up facing a window or door.  As long as you are connected to wi-fi, 3G or 4G, using the smartphone app you can view and record a live stream from the camera from anywhere in the world.

The Nest Cam Indoor Security Camera  allows you to set the sensitivity of the motion detector and you’ll get an alert if there’s a disturbance, it includes a night vision mode for keeping an eye on your house in the dark. 

Fire extinguisher

If you are worried about electrical fires then it’s worth considering a fire extinguisher.

CO2 extinguishers are safe to use on computer and electrical fires (but not deep fat fryers) because they don’t damage the equipment. Foam fire extinguishers can be used on electrical equipment (if they’ve been tested first), but equipment will be damaged.

Before you buy a fire extinguisher we recommend you check out the Fire Service website.

Read more in our article: 9 ways to control your home from your smartphone 

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