Smoke Alarms

Properly functioning smoke alarms provide an early warning of smoke and fire. They may be the only things standing between safe escape and being overcome by deadly gases.

A smoke alarm becomes your "Nose at Night." Most fatal fires occur during the night when people are sleeping. The smoke and poisonous gases emitted from a fire are deadly and people may be suffocated from the gases without being awakened or even realizing there is a fire.

Type of Smoke Alarms

  • An ionization smoke alarm monitors "ions," which are electrically charged particles. The alarm sounds when the charge in electrical balance reaches a preset level.
  • The photoelectric smoke alarm uses a beam of light and a light sensor. The alarm sounds when the smoke density reaches a preset level.

Both ionization and photoelectric alarms are acceptable and perform effectively provided they are installed and maintained correctly. Smoke alarms may be hard wired or battery operated. If you have a hard wired smoke alarms, install battery operated smoke alarms on every floor in case of a power failure.

Smoke Alarms with Special Features

Special communication aids, which convert the sound of a smoke alarm into flashing lights or vibrations, are available for hearing impaired people. Specialized alarms with a pause feature are available for the kitchen to prevent nuisance alarms.

Please note: When purchasing a smoke alarm, make sure that is has been tested to the CAN.ULC 5531-M STANDARD or by an approved testing agency.

Placement of Smoke Alarms

Read manufacturer's instructions carefully and follow them exactly. It is recommended that smoke alarms be installed on every floor of your home and outside each sleeping area. For maximum protection, install a smoke alarm in every bedroom, especially if you sleep with your bedroom door closed. Since smoke rises, install smoke alarms high on a wall or on the ceiling. Keep smoke alarms away from anything that can blow smoke away from the sensor, such as windows, air registers and ceiling fans.

Testing Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms should be tested and maintained in accordance with manufacturer's instructions. Alarms should be tested once a month by pushing the test button and listening for the alarm.

Changing Batteries

For battery-operated smoke alarms, replace batteries at least once a year or for extended life batteries according to manufacturer's instructions. Batteries should also be replaced when the smoke alarm makes a chirping sound - this is a low battery warning.

Cleaning of Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms should be cleaned at least once every six months by gently vacuuming the exterior.

Replacement of Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms do wear out and should be replaced at least every ten years. Smoke alarms installed in or near the kitchen should include a pause feature.

Recycling Smoke Alarms

AlarmRecycle is a recycling program for used or expired smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. British Columbia residents can drop off their smoke and CO alarms for recycling at AlarmRecycle drop-off locations across the province. Locally, the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society at 10092 236 Street, Maple Ridge is a designated drop off location.