Smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms save lives. Understanding where alarms should be installed and knowing the signs of carbon monoxide exposure are the best ways to be prepared.

On this page:

  1. Smoke alarms
  2. Carbon monoxide (CO) alarms

Smoke alarms

Every home must have working smoke alarms on every level and outside sleeping areas. It is the law!

Smoke alarms provide early warning and time to leave when there's a fire. A large portion of fire deaths in the home happen at night, while sleeping.

Installation and maintenance

Since smoke rises, install smoke alarms on the ceiling or high on the wall. Avoid placing them close to bathrooms, heating appliances, windows or fans. For more protection, install alarms inside bedrooms.

Homeowners must install and maintain smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside sleeping areas. Landlords must also comply with the same law as homeowners, installing and maintaining smoke alarms for their tenants. Tenants must contact their landlord if they do not have the required smoke alarms. It is against the law for a tenant to tamper with a smoke alarm.

Smoke alarm safety checklist

Stay safe by following our smoke alarm safety checklist:

  • test your smoke alarms monthly
  • if your smoke alarm has removable batteries, change them twice per year (daylight savings time)
  • gently vacuum your smoke alarm once a month with soft brush
  • replace smoke alarm when they exceed the recommended life cycle (usually 10 years)
  • replace an alarm earlier if it is not working correctly or damaged

Learn more about smoke alarm safety.

Types of smoke alarms

There are several types of smoke alarms. Electricity or battery, or a mix of both can power alarms. Many alarms have a pause feature, which you can use to silence an alarm for a brief period.

Smoke alarms with high decibel alarms or strobe lights are available for the hearing impaired. Visit the Canadian Hearing Society for more information.

Carbon monoxide (CO) alarms

As of April 2015, it's the law to install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms next to all sleeping areas if your home has:

  • a fuel-burning appliance
  • a fireplace
  • an attached garage

Quick facts about carbon monoxide

Here are some quick facts about CO:

  • CO is a colourless, tasteless and odourless gas
  • fuels that do not have enough air to burn completely produce CO gas
  • any device that burns fuels can produce CO gas, including stoves, fireplaces, generators and engines
  • exposure to CO gas can cause flu symptoms
  • at high levels, CO gas can cause loss of consciousness or death

Learn more about carbon monoxide prevention.