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Smoke and CO Alarms

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are required by law.

Smoke Alarms


The largest percentage of fire deaths in the home occurs at night while people are sleeping. Working smoke alarms can be the difference between a safe escape and being overcome by deadly gases. Statistics show that half of the alarms installed in homes do not work.

Buying the Right Alarm
There are several types of smoke alarms with different features. Alarms can be electrically connected, battery powered or a combination of both. Many alarms have a pause or hush feature, which can be used to temporarily silence nuisance alarms.

Most smoke alarms employ either ionization or photoelectric technology. Ionization alarms respond slightly faster to flaming type fires while photoelectric alarms may be quicker at detecting slow, smoldering fires. Photoelectric alarms are recommended for use in or near kitchen and bathrooms.

Smoke Alarm Special Features
Special communication aids which convert the sounds of a smoke alarm into flashing lights or vibrations are available for deaf and hard of hearing people. There are smoke alarms available with a ten-year lithium battery that lasts the expected life span of the alarm. Great peace of mind that saves you money too!

Where to Install Smoke Alarms
Install smoke alarms on the ceiling because smoke rises. If that's not an option, place high on the wall in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Avoid placing close to bathrooms, heating appliances and kitchen or close to windows and ceiling fans.

Smoke Alarm Safety Checklist

  • Change the batteries at least once a year
  • Test smoke alarms monthly
  • Gently vacuum annually with soft brush
  • If you sleep with the bedroom doors closed, install an alarm in each bedroom for maximum protection
  • Replace smoke alarms when they exceed the manufacturer's recommended lifecycle, which is generally 10 years. However, replace alarms sooner if they are damaged, painted or malfunctioning.                            

Handling Nuisance alarms

Steam from the shower or vapourizers or cooking in the oven, stove or toaster can cause smoke alarms to activate. If these types of nuisance alarms occur do not remove the battery or shut the power off. There are options you can try to reduce nuisance alarms:

  1. Relocate the alarm. Sometimes moving the alarm just a few inches can make the difference.
  2. Install smoke alarms with a pause/hush feature that will allow you to temporarily silence the alarm.
  3. Replace the alarm with an alarm that uses different technology. A photoelectric alarm is less likely to activate due to hot cooking appliances or steam.

Know the different between the sounds your alarm can make

  1. If you hear a continuous beeping – the alarm has detected smoke/heat. Get Out! Call 911!
  2. If you hear a long continuous squeal, this may indicate that your alarm has been unplugged or has come loose from the socket. It may also mean that the alarm has malfunctioned.
  3. If you hear an intermittent chirping, it could be one of two things:
  • it’s time to replace the batteries or
  •  the alarm has reached its “end of life”

Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.

What to do if the alarm sounds or you detect fire
1. Close all doors behind you. Get out and stay out. Never go back inside.
2. Go to your meeting place.
3. CALL 911.
4. Wait for emergency personnel.

It's the Law
Every home must have working smoke alarms outside all sleeping areas. It is recommended that smoke alarms be placed in every bedroom for maximum protection.  Safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Homeowners
It is the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure smoke alarms are installed as required and to maintain them.

Landlords
It is the responsibility of landlords to ensure their rental properties comply with the law and to maintain them.

Tenants
If you are a tenant of a rental property and you do not have the required number of alarms, contact your landlord immediately. It is also your responsibility to notify your landlord if your alarm(s) are not working. It is against the law for tenants to remove batteries or tamper with the alarm in anyway.

Failure to comply with the Ontario Fire – Smoke Alarm requirements could result in a ticket of $360 or a fine of up to $50,000 for individuals or $100,000 for corporations.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (also called CO) is a poisonous gas that you cannot see, smell, hear or taste. It is often referred to as the silent killer. CO is produced by the incomplete burning of fuels such as natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene, coal, charcoal or wood.

Improperly installed or poorly maintained appliances that run on these fuels can create unsafe levels of CO. A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount over a shorter period of time. Even a small amount of CO is dangerous in enclosed spaces such as your home, cottage or recreational vehicle.

Only working CO alarms give you the warning of the presence of CO you need to keep your family safe.

Why Should I Care About Carbon Monoxide?

It Kills.

Many Canadians die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning in their own homes, most of them while sleeping. Carbon monoxide is the number one cause of accidental poisoning deaths in North America.

It Injures.

Hundreds of Canadians are hospitalized every year from carbon monoxide poisoning, many of whom are permanently disabled. Everyone is at risk – 88 percent of all homes have something that poses a carbon monoxide threat. See more at: http://www.oafc.on.ca/carbon-monoxide#sthash.k2qSoNAH.dpuf

What are the symptoms of CO?

Exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, burning eyes, confusion, drowsiness, and even loss of consciousness. In very serious cases, CO poisoning can cause brain damage and death. There is no fever associated with CO poisoning. The elderly, children, people with heart or respiratory conditions and pets may be particularly sensitive to CO and may feel the effects sooner. If you experience flu-like symptoms at home but feel better when you leave, it might be a warning that there is a CO leak inside your home.

What can create a CO hazard?

  • Fuel-burning appliances, venting systems and chimneys that have not been serviced or maintained regularly by a qualified service technician or heating contractor. Visit COSafety.ca to find a registered fuel contractor near you.
  • A chimney blocked by a bird or squirrel’s nest, snow, ice or other debris
  • Check that outside furnace/hot water tank vents are not blocked
  • Exhaust fumes seeping into your home from a car, lawn mower or snow blower running in an attached garage or open window/door
  • Using fuel-burning appliances designed for outdoor use (BBQ, lanterns, chainsaws, lawnmowers, snow blowers, etc.), in an enclosed area (tent, recreational vehicle, workshop, garage)
  • Combustion gases spilling into a home if too much air is being consumed by a fireplace or exhausted by kitchen/bathroom fans in a tightly sealed house
  • If your condo or apartment building has a service room, carbon monoxide alarms must be installed in the service room and adjacent to each sleeping area of all condo/apartment units above, below, or beside the service room
  • If your condo/apartment building has a garage, carbon monoxide alarms must be installed adjacent to each sleeping area of all condo/apartment units above, below, or beside the garage.

Many homes in Ontario have on average 4-6 fuel burning appliances that produce CO:

  • Fireplace – wood, natural gas or propane
  • Gas dryer
  • Furnace – wood, natural gas, propane or oil
  • Stove – natural gas or propane
  • Water heater – natural gas, propane, oil
  • Portable fuel heater
  • Attached garage
Carbon Monoxide hazards in your home

What can I do to prevent a CO hazard?

  1. Get annual inspections on all fuel-fired appliances, venting systems and chimneys by a qualified service technician. Regularly maintained appliances that are properly ventilated should not produce hazardous levels of carbon monoxide.
  2. Install and test CSA-approved carbon monoxide alarms monthly
  3. Vacuum your alarm as specified in the manufacturer’s instructions
  4. Replace your CO alarm every 7-10 years. See instruction manual for your replacement date.

What are the different sounds my alarm can make?
Know the difference between the sounds your alarm can make.

  1. If you hear a continuous beeping – the alarm has detected CO. Get Out! Call 911!
  2. If you hear a long continuous squeal, this may indicate that your alarm has been unplugged or has come loose from the socket. It may also mean that the alarm has malfunctioned.
  3. If you hear an intermittent chirping, it could be one of two things:
  • it’s time to replace the batteries or
  •  the alarm has reached its “end of life”
  1. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.

What should I do if I suspect CO in my home?
Trust your CO alarm. If you or anyone in your home is experiencing the symptoms of CO poisoning or your alarm sounds, make sure everyone leaves the home immediately and gets medical attention. Call 911. Leave your doors and windows closed so that emergency personnel can get an accurate reading of the CO levels in your home when they respond.

It's the Law
Every home containing a fuel-fired appliance must have working CO alarms outside all sleeping areas. It is recommended that CO alarms be placed on every level for maximum protection.  Safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Homeowners
It is the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure CO alarms are installed as required and to maintain them.

Landlords
It is the responsibility of landlords to ensure their rental properties comply with the law and to maintain them.

Tenants
If you are a tenant of a rental property and you do not have the required number of alarms, contact your landlord immediately. It is also your responsibility to notify your landlord if your alarm(s) are not working. It is against the law for tenants to remove batteries or tamper the alarm in anyway.

Failure to comply with the Ontario Fire – CO Alarm requirements could result in a ticket for $360 or a fine of up to $50,000 for individuals or $100,000 for corporations.

carbon monoxide prevention in your home