Updated: Feb 26, 2019
You know you have seen these around your house and likelihood is you don't pay much attention to them unless the battery is chirping in the middle of the night.
Statistics to share
Three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms.
More than one-third (38 percent) of home fire deaths result from fires in which no smoke alarms are present.
The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms.
When I began to learn about the importance of these devices I was astounded by just how important they are in our homes. These devices will literally save your life. Whenever I visit a home, whether it be to look at a bathroom remodel or a lighting upgrade, I always take a moment to visually check the detectors in the home. By no means are my observations scientifically accurate, but at least 8 out of the last 10 homes I have been in did not have functioning detectors or the detectors were out of date. I find this unacceptable and advise any homeowner I meet to repair or replace their detectors.
There is a vast array of devices available on the market for any application or home. Local codes should be followed. You can always reach out to your local building department, fire department, or licensed electrician for advice on proper placement of these devices.
This graphic is a good illustration of where smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be placed throughout the home. It is important that devices communicate with each other so when one activates it sets all the devices off.
Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
The dangers of CO exposure depend on a number of variables, including the victim's health and activity level. Infants, pregnant women, and people with physical conditions that limit their body's ability to use oxygen (i.e. emphysema, asthma, heart disease) can be more severely affected by lower concentrations of CO than healthy adults would be.
A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount of time. Its not enough to have a battery operated CO detector in your home. These devices have a limited life-span and should be replaced by a more reliable, smarter device. Simply replacing the batteries in one of these devices does not ensure it is working properly. Case in point - just recently, one of our neighbors alerted us that her plug in, battery operated CO detector was beeping. She was very upset and concerned and ended up calling the fire department. We had recently replaced all of her hard wired detectors and none of them were alarming. As it turns out, the plug in battery operated device that was alarming was no longer functioning properly.
In 2010, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 80,100 non-fire CO incidents in which carbon monoxide was found, or an average of nine such calls per hour. The number of incidents increased 96 % from 40,900 incidents reported in 2003. This increase is most likely due to the increased use of CO detectors, which alert people to the presence of CO.
Source: NFPA's "Non-Fire Carbon Monoxide Incidents" report
Properly working smoke and CO detectors are a must have in a home. These devices should be modern, smart and have a long life-span. We highly recommend units that can communicate with your smartphone and interact with other smart devices throughout the home.