Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Smoke Alarms

The majority of fatal home fires happen at night when people are asleep. Contrary to popular belief, the smell of smoke may not wake a sleeping person. Inexpensive household smoke alarms sound an alarm, alerting you to a fire.

Smoke alarms provide precious seconds to escape a fire. The B.C. Fire Code requires every private dwelling, hotel and motel room have working smoke alarms installed.
Older homes and buildings may install battery operated smoke alarms -- they are easier and less expensive to install than hard-wired alarms.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly to make sure they are working
  • Develop and practice a home fire escape plan to ensure everyone knows what to do in case of fire
  • Replace battery operated and wired smoke alarms every 8 - 10 years. Check your manufacturer's user manual for care and maintenance instructions.

There are several different types of smoke alarms available. Some run on batteries, others connect to your household current; some detect smoke using an ionization sensor, and others use a photoelectric detection system. Whatever type of smoke alarm you buy be sure that it has the label of an independent testing laboratory, such as UL, on it. 
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires a smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. On floors without bedrooms, alarms should be installed in or near living areas such as dens, living rooms, or family rooms.
Ensure everyone sleeping in your home can hear your smoke alarms' alert even with bedroom doors closed. If not, or if any residents are hearing-impaired, install additional alarms inside bedrooms. Smoke alarms that flash a strobe light in addition to sounding an audible alert are available for the hearing impaired. For extra protection, the NFPA suggests installing additional alarms in dining rooms, furnace rooms, utility rooms, and hallways.
Smoke alarms are not recommended for kitchens, bathrooms, or garages where cooking fumes, steam, or exhaust could set off false alerts, or for attics and other unheated spaces where humidity and temperature changes might affect an alarms' operation.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Carbon monoxide (CO) is often called the silent killer. It's an invisible, odourless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. Heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel as well as wood burning fireplaces and stoves are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

There are three types of carbon monoxide alarms available: battery operated, plug in, and hardwired into your household current. Whatever type of carbon monoxide alarm you buy be sure that it has the label of an independent testing laboratory, such as UL, on it. It is recommended that carbon monoxide alarms be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.

If the alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call 9-1-1 from outside and stay there until emergency personnel arrive.


Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:

CO poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms (without the fever), food poisoning and other illnesses. Symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

High level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including:

  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of muscular coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death

A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount of time.

See Alarm Installation & Maintenance

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