Smoke and carbon monoxide alarm safety

Working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are essential fire safety tools to have in your home. They are the best way to prevent fire fatalities.

Every home is required to have working smoke alarms and most are also required to have carbon monoxide alarms. Learn what kind you need to have and where they should be placed in your homes.

Protect your home and family with smoke alarms

  • Have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside bedrooms, at the top of open stairs and at the base of cellar stairs.
  • Maintain smoke alarms. Test them once a month and change the batteries twice a year.
  • Smoke alarms must be replaced every 10 years. Alarms are labeled with their date of manufacture. If there is no label, they are older than 10 years and must be replaced.

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Protect your home and family with carbon monoxide alarms

  • The law requires carbon monoxide alarms to be installed on every level of your home, including habitable portions of basements and attics, in most residences.
  • On levels with sleeping areas, carbon monoxide alarms should be installed within 10 feet of bedroom doors.
  • Nicole's Law also requires landlords to install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms in every dwelling unit that has a source of carbon monoxide.
  • Large apartment buildings, where there is no source inside of the individual apartments, may use an alternative method to detect carbon monoxide near the furnace, boiler rooms, or garage.
  • When purchasing a carbon monoxide alarm, be sure to look for the approval label of an independent testing company, such as Underwriter's Laboratory (UL), International Approval Service (IAS), or Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Most carbon monoxide alarms that are sold in the Commonwealth meet these standards, but it's a good idea to check before buying.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms may be
    • Battery operated with battery monitoring
    • Plug-ins with battery back-up
    • Low voltage systems
    • Wireless
    • Qualified combination
  • Replace carbon monoxide alarms every 5 to 7 years, depending on the make and model
  • If you have a plug-in model, be aware that the battery will run down during an extended power outage and may need to be replaced. 

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