"Working Smoke Alarms & Carbon Monoxide Alarms Save Lives!"
You do need to install both types of alarms - carbon monoxide alarms do not sense smoke and smoke alarms do not sense carbon monoxide gas. Also, be aware of the different sounds that each type of alarm makes.
It is the responsibility of homeowners to install and maintain smoke alarms on every storey of the home and outside all sleeping areas. Failure to comply with the Fire Code smoke alarm requirements could result in a ticket or a fine.
Working smoke alarms save lives. The Ontario Fire Code requires a working smoke alarm on every storey of your home and outside all sleeping areas. For added protection, install smoke alarms inside all bedrooms (especially if people sleep with closed bedroom doors). The age of your house may determine what protection you have in your home. Click here for more information.
For homes built before 1975, there likely are no electric smoke alarms. A "working" smoke alarm is required on every storey. It is also recommended to replace any existing battery operated smoke alarms that are older than ten (10) years.
For homes built from 1975 to 1990, an electric smoke alarm is located between sleeping areas and the remainder of the home. A new smoke alarm installed on other unprotected storeys is required. It is also recommended to replace the original electric smoke alarm and battery operated smoke alarms that are older than ten (10) years.
For homes built from 1990 to 2013, electrically interconnected smoke alarms are already located on each storey. As long as they are "working", no action is required; however, it is recommended to replace smoke alarms that are older than ten (10) years.
For homes built from January 1, 2014, the 2012 Ontario Building Code (OBC), which took effect January 1, 2014, requires electrically interconnected smoke alarms on every storey (including basements), in every sleeping room and in every hallway which services that sleeping room. All of these electrically interconnected alarms shall have battery back-up.
For homes built after January 2015, electrically interconnected smoke alarms are on every storey (including basements), in every sleeping room and in every hallway which services that sleeping room. All of these electrically interconnected alarms have battery back-up. These alarms have a visual signaling component.
Installing Smoke Alarms:
- Smoke alarms should be installed on the ceiling and near the centre of the room, hall or stairway as well as the head of each staircase leading to an occupied area.
- Keep smoke alarms away from doors, windows and ceiling fans or vents.
- On ceilings with steep slopes, smoke alarms should be installed on the high side of the room.
- On "A" frame ceilings, avoid putting the smoke alarm at the peak.
- Smoke alarms in the electrical circuit should never be installed on a circuit with an on/off switch.
- Never paint smoke alarms.
Maintenance of Smoke Alarm:
- Test smoke alarms monthly by pushing the test button.
- Gently vacuum dust out of smoke alarms twice a year.
- Change batteries at least once a year or if you hear low-battery warning beeps.
- Smoke alarms should be replaced every ten (10) years for best performance.
- Always replace electrical smoke alarms with an electrical alarm. For optimal detection, ensure electrical alarms have the battery back-up.
There are two (2) basic types of smoke alarms available; Ionization and Photoelectric. The following chart shows the relative benefits of having both types of smoke alarms:
We do recommend that you have a mixture of both of these types of detection in your home. There are smoke alarms sold that are "dual sensor" (they combine the features of both the ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms both into one unit).
Additional Safety Tips:
OFMEM's information on Smoke Alarms
OFMEM's Infographic - " Smoke Alarms Save Lives"
Fire Prevention Canada's fact sheet - "Smoke Alarms"
NFPA's Infographic - "Smoke Alarms Save Lives"
NFPA's tip sheet - "Smoke Alarms at Home"
NFPA's tip sheet - "Smoke Alarms for People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing"
NFPA's "Home Smoke Alarm Basics" video and tips
NFPA's video - "Beep, Beep, Beep!"
Safe at Home's video shows how an old smoke alarm works versus a new smoke alarm
OFMEM's video - "Smoke Alarm - Family"
OFMEM's video - "Smoke Alarm - Baby"
OFMEM's video - Smoke Alarm - Push my buttons"
Disposal of old smoke/carbon monoxide alarm(s):
First, remove any batteries for recycling. Bring the separated batteries and the smoke or carbon monoxide alarm(s) to any of Region of Peel's Community Recycling Centre (CRC) for proper disposal, free of charge. Battery-free, hard-wired alarms are also accepted at Peel's CRCs, free of charge.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a silent, deadly killer. CO is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas and weighs almost the same as air. If you have CO in your home, you'll have it everywhere. CO is produced when fuels such as propane, gasoline, natural gas, heating oil or wood do not burn completely in fuel-burning appliances and devices such as: furnaces, gas or wood fireplaces, hot water heaters, stoves, barbeques, portable fuel-burning heaters and generators, and vehicles.
Maintenance of a Carbon Monoxide Alarm:
- Test monthly by pushing the test button.
- If battery operated or battery backup, the battery should be changed once a year.
- CO alarms should be replaced every seven (7) to ten (10) years.
Physical Symptoms from Carbon Monoxide in your home:
- Flu like symptoms.
- Tiredness (more than usual).
- Headaches (long lasting).
- You should also be suspicious if other people in your home are experiencing these same flu-like symptoms. If your CO alarm sounds, get outside and call 911.
- If your CO alarm sounds and no one is suffering from symptoms of CO poisoning, check to see if the battery needs replacing, or if the alarm has reached its "end-of-life" before calling 911.
Click here to learn about 'How Much CO Is Too Much?' (CAD & USA standards)
Never use a generator, portable heater, bbq, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement or any partially enclosed area. Ensure all fuel-burning appliances in your home are inspected annually.
NFPA's tip sheet - "Generator Safety"
Ontario has taken another step to keep families and homes in Ontario safe by making carbon monoxide (CO) alarms mandatory in all residential homes. This new regulation, which came into effect October 15, 2014, updates Ontario's Fire Code following the passage of Bill 77. You must install a CO alarm in your home if you have a fuel-burning appliance, a fireplace or an attached garage. For added protection, install a CO alarm on every storey of your home.
- Single-family homeowners and property owners/tenants in buildings that contain no more than 6 suites will have a period of six months to comply (by April 15, 2015).
- Residential occupancy owners of buildings with more than 6 suites have 12 months to comply (by October 15, 2015).
- CO alarms that have already been installed must be maintained in accordance with the Fire Code effective October 15, 2014.
- Failure to comply with the CO alarm requirements could result in a fine of up to $50,000 for individuals or $100,000 for corporations.
For more detailed information, click on the following links:
Carbon Monoxide Alarm Questions and Answers
The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM)
OFMEM's Safety Checklist
OFMEM's Infographic - "CO Alarms Save Lives"
Infographic - Sources of CO and Alarm Location Guidelines in Homes
Infographic - Sources of CO and Alarm Location Guidelines in Apartments/Condos
Infographic - Beat the Silent Killer
Fire Prevention Canada's fact sheet - "Quick Facts on CO"
NFPA's tip sheet - "CO Safety"
NFPA's tip sheet - "Wood & Pellet Stove Safety"
Video - "Test Yours Today" (testing smoke and CO alarms)
Video - "Carbon Monoxide Kills"
Monitored Home Alarm Systems
If you are installing a burglary system that will be monitored, it is recommended to get a smoke and fire sensor added to the system. This is beneficial to have if a fire were to occur while you are away from your home.
Home fire safety sprinklers are affordable and easily installed in new construction. When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased.
Additional Safety Tips:
Canadian Automatic Sprinkler Association (CASA)
NFPA's tip sheet - "Home Fire Sprinklers"
NFPA's tip sheet - "Home Safety for People with Disabilities"
Home Fire Sprinkler's new timeline helps explain speed of a fire