Installing and Maintaining Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Working smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms save lives by quickly giving you and your loved ones an early warning signal that something is wrong. Fire spreads fast and carbon monoxide is a silent killer. Working alarms are the most critical component of your escape plan.

  • Be sure to have the right type of alarm. Alarms must be approved by Underwriters Laboratories (look for a UL mark) and have an audible end-of-life warning. All new and replacement smoke alarms should have a sealed 10-year battery that is non-replaceable and non-removable.
  • Have both a smoke alarm and a CO alarm (or a combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarm). One type of alarm is not a substitute for the other.
  • If your alarm still uses removable batteries, be sure to change them twice a year. A great reminder is changing batteries on days clocks are changed for daylight saving time. Replace these alarms with ones that contain sealed 10-year batteries as soon as possible.

Alarm Installation

  • Install alarms where you sleep and on every level of your home, including basements.
  • Locate alarms on the ceiling, preferably near the center of the room, but not less than four inches from a wall. If the alarm must be installed on a wall, it should be placed between four and 12 inches from the ceiling.
  • Consider installing interconnected alarms so that when one alarm sounds, they all sound.
  • Special alarms should be installed for those who are hard of hearing or deaf. Strobe lights and bed shakers are available.

Alarm Maintenance

  • Test your alarms regularly by pressing the test button.
  • Replace alarms every 10 years or when the alarm signals that it has reached the end of life and needs to be replaced.
  • Keep alarms clean by regularly dusting or vacuuming.

When an Alarm Sounds

  • If a CO alarm sounds, you and your family should get out immediately and call 911.
  • If a smoke alarm sounds, be sure to execute your escape plan.
  • If an alarm is set off accidentally, quiet the alarm by pushing the hush or reset button. Open windows and turn on vent fans to clear the air.
  • Accidental alarms often are triggered by bathroom steam or cooking vapors. Consider relocating alarms that often sound by accident.

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