Use A Shower Cap To Stop Smoke Alarm Woes

It doesn't matter how much of a kitchen whiz you are, there are certain dishes you can't cook without creating a little smoke. If your smoke alarm likes to go off when you're in the middle of cooking, here's a clever way to keep it from beeping without removing its batteries completely.

Photo by Michael Hicks.

After setting my alarm off for what seemed like the billionth time last night, I went searching for solutions online. The one I found is clever, and it doesn't involve a lot of work. From commenter Farmersdaughter over at The Kitchn:

My smoke alarm is so sensitive that even with all the windows open and my Vent-a-Hood going full blast it still gets smoky when I sear meats. So, I put a shower cap or a piece of plastic wrap secured by a rubber band over the smoke alarm while cooking, and remove it immediately afterwards.

This doesn't require you to open up the detector and take out the batteries or anything like that. Just slap the shower cap on, do your cooking, and take it off when you're done. The other thing that's really great about this is that you probably won't forget to take it off, because every time you walk by it you'll see that shower cap hanging from the ceiling (a brightly coloured cap would be ideal here). That way, you never leave yourself vulnerable to a disabled smoke detector during a real fire.

What Is the Best Way To: Keep the Smoke Alarms Off? [The Kitchn]


    In Australia, we have two types of smoke alarms: photoelectric and ion-based (with a small radioactive source). They respond differently to smoke. We are usually advised to put the photoelectric type in kitchens for this reason. "Ionisation smoke alarms are more prone to nuisance alarms from cooking (toasters, open grillers, birthday cake candles and the like) and should not be installed near kitchens." (from
    Deactivating smoke alarms sounds stupid and in some circumstances would be criminally negligent, even with something as obvious as a shower cap.

      That,s all very well to say dont disable but if it goes off every time I cook, the neighbours get as mad as cut snakes , not to mention that my hearing has suffered with a type of aftershock, a siren permanently sounding in my ears (Tinnitus).

    It's not recommended to disable smoke alarms at all. Each year the Fire & Rescue NSW attends approximately 2,500 kitchen fires - or approximately 56% of all residential fires. More than half of all home fires start in the kitchen by unattended heat sources such as foodstuffs on stoves and by electrical short circuits. The areas of the house where most fires occur are in the kitchen. So please don't disable your smoke alarm in the kitchen, it is where it is need the most.

    More information can be found here regarding kitchen fire safety

    Change your clocks, change your smoke alarm batteries
    Also regarding smoke alarms, Fire & Rescue NSW is urging householders to change their smoke alarm batteries when they change their clocks at the end of Daylight Saving on April 1. Taking a few minutes to ensure smoke alarms were working properly could buy valuable time for families during an emergency.

    What a great idea - disabling the smoke detector whilst you're doing something that may easily result in a fire....

    Our alarm has a 'disable for 5 minutes' button; the annoying thing is using a long stick to reach to the ceiling to click the button

    Really? You're advocating disabling a smoke detector while you do the one thing that causes arguably the most home fires, and one of the top 5 causes of fatalities in the home.

    Pretty irresponsible.

    Like everyone else I don't agree with disabling a smoke alarm. The right thing to do would be to get the right type of alarm installed into the kitchen. They aren't expensive either!

    Wow! Incredibly irresponsible.
    "smoke alarms save lives" disabling them is just plain stupid.

    This is a great idea! Unless your an IDIOT, and cant cook eggs without catching them on fire. Or to remember you have SHOWER CAP on your fire alarm. Its a safe way to cook without having to juggle between the kitchen and fanning the fire alarm. Its better then what most ppl do and take out the batteries.

    Putting a shower cap on the alarm is certainly a quick and temporary way of solving this problem. Not everyone is going to run out and get their smoke alarm changed to the photoelectric type straightaway. I think this is a good TEMPORARY alternative, much better than people disabling smoke alarms for sure. The writer is saying it is a good alternative for when you are doing just that one thing in the kitchen that makes your smoke alarm go off.. then whip it off straight after.
    Great for all of you who care to caution, but no need for all this over reaction.

    As a former Fire Safety Manager at Royal North Shore Hospital and Station
    Officer of NSWFB I have experienced a myriad of methods of disabling fire detectors. Examples include the shower cap, latex gloves, styrene cups, masking tape,etc as well as removing detectors from their base plate - which will bring up a 'Fault condition' on the Fire Indicator Panel and removing batteries from the portable type. The main problem I found was that the detector was most often left in this condition. I would be able to find the faulted detector on constant inspection of the Fire Panel but others were by reports from other staff usually by pure chance. The perps are mostly smokers who do this in locations that are not often frequented. Contractors and workmen were the other main cause and of course cooking.
    Human nature tends to be inherently lazy and you will start leaving the shower cap on after getting up on your step ladder every time you cook.
    Flats that have kitchen/living area combos can have the detector changed to thermal. Put the Photo electrics outside the bedrooms. Addressable detectors can be programmed to thermal. Ionised detectors activate from charged ionised particles from quick hot fires such as gas and are not suitable near cooking areas.
    As budding chefs engaged in vigorous cooking these days then they will need to modify their kitchens to accommodate. Install extractor fans and/or range hoods that expel cooking vapour outside the building - remember steam will activate photoelectrics. The expense will nowhere be as devastating as a confined space fire with no early warning.

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