Smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms have long been known to save lives. We see them in public buildings and homes alike. The NFPA has numerous consensus standards concerning both these alarms. One such recommendation is for the testing of them. Let us look at some other factors to know when talking about CO and smoke alarms.
Two common types of smoke alarms are photoelectric and ionization. Photoelectric is considered more responsive to smoldering fires while the ionization alarm is more responsive to fires involving flames, like a liquid solvent fire. You can purchase units that are both. Ensure that whichever units you buy that they were independently tested, such as by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
Carbon monoxide alarms will alert you to any fumes from combustion processes, such as a car’s exhaust fumes, that could incapacitate you and your family. Both CO alarms and smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home and outside each sleeping area and are recommended to be inter-connected such as that when one alarm sounds, they all sound.
Test all alarms monthly by pushing the “Test” button on each unit. Replace the batteries at least annually or when you hear a “chirping” sound coming from the unit. Alarms should be taken out of service and replaced no less than every 10 years, or when there is an integrity issue with the alarm. Testing of the alarms is crucial to protecting your family at home and your co-workers in the workplace. Testing is the only way to ensure the unit is working properly. Every year we see fatalities related to lack of alarms or alarms that did not function correctly, partly because of a lack of testing protocols.
Check with your local fire department for assistance with any questions or concerns you may have about the safety of CO and smoke alarms. Follow all manufacturers guidelines as well as any local or state laws, codes, or standards.