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Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Why You Need Carbon Monoxide Detectors

A "silent killer," carbon monoxide (CO) gas is odorless, tasteless, and invisible. Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of poison related deaths in America. CO gas is released into the air when burning wood, oil, propane, charcoal, or natural gas. In most situations, it dissipates before it becomes concentrated enough to pose a health risk, but gas leaks in your home, RV, or garage can be fatal.

Why You Need Smoke Detectors

When a fire occurs, every second is crucial. The shrill alarm of a smoke detector will wake you from a sound sleep and can easily be heard throughout several rooms. Smoke detectors can alert to the presence of a fire before you can smell smoke or see flames.

Where to Install Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors

Be mindful of local fire codes and check state, municipality, and industry requirements for guidance on the installation of CO and smoke detectors. Some may have stricter regulations. For example, California requires tamper-proof smoke detectors. Safety industry experts recommend that CO and smoke detectors be placed on every floor of a building and in the following rooms:

  • 5-20 ft. from each furnace, water heater, or fireplace
  • Bedrooms
  • Hallways
  • Living Room
  • Kitchen
  • Laundry room
  • Basement
  • Garage

In situations where smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are required, combination smoke/CO units are a smart purchase. In addition to this list, always check the local fire code as each state and municipality may have unique rules.

Are Your Detectors Still Effective?

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors become less effective over time. From 2009 to 2013, smoke detectors were present, but failed to operate in 8% of reported fires, resulting in a 21% fatality rate. Even if the alarm sounds when tested, years of built-up smoke, grease, dust, and other debris can coat the alarm's sensor and lessen its ability to detect a fire in a timely manner. Because of this, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) recommends replacing the entire unit once every 10 years even if you’ve been diligent about replacing the batteries.

Decade Long Protection: Tamper-Proof Smoke Detector

Never change the batteries again! First Alert’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are available with sealed 10-year lithium batteries. California state law requires these tamper-proof designs for all smoke and carbon monoxide detector replacements. When the low battery chirps, simply replace the unit for another decade of worry-free protection. This is the best smoke detector for apartment buildings and rental homes, as many states hold the landlord liable for the upkeep, even when residents fail to replace the battery or disconnect the unit.

Should You Choose Battery-Operated or Hard-Wired?

Most importantly, check the regulations in your area. Homes built before 1992 generally aren't required to have hard-wired smoke detectors, and California requires 10-year tamper-proof, battery-operated detectors. Because hard-wired alarms can be connected, a fire on the first floor can trigger an alarm on the second floor, giving you advanced warning to get out of the house if you're unable to hear the alarm over a TV or stereo. Just remember that hard-wired alarms have a backup battery that needs to be tested regularly and replaced periodically. The backup battery is designed to sustain power to the device in the event of an outage.

Interconnectivity and Retrofit Accessories

Detectors need to be mounted in locations to sound at the first sign of smoke or carbon monoxide. For the elderly, vision or hearing impaired, additional auxiliary warning devices should be mounted closer to the bed and easily visible from other places in the room. Relay modules can activate additional warning devices such as externally mounted bells, sirens, or stairway lighting.