Choose the Right Alarm

There are smoke alarms with different features and applications, so choosing the right alarm can be confusing. Features to consider include:

  • Power Source: electrical, battery or a combination of both. If you are installing an electrically powered alarm it is recommended that it have a battery back-up in case of power failures.
  • Technology:  Ionization or photo-electric technology. Ionization alarms may respond slightly faster to flaming-type fires, while photo-electric alarms may be quicker at detecting slow, smouldering fires.
  • Pause Feature: Highly recommended as it permits the alarm to be temporarily silenced without disconnecting the power source.


Install In the Proper Location

Smoke alarms must be installed on each storey of the home as well as outside sleeping areas. Because smoke rises, smoke alarms should be installed on the ceiling. If this is not possible, install the alarm high up on a wall. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when installing smoke alarms. Avoid putting smoke alarms too close to bathrooms, windows, ceiling fans and heating and cooking appliances.

Test Smoke Alarms Monthly

Test your smoke alarms every month by using the test button on the alarm. When the test button is pressed, the alarm should sound. If it fails to sound, make sure that the battery is installed correctly or install a new battery. If the alarm still fails to sound, replace the smoke alarm with a new one.

Change the batteries every year.

Install a new battery at least once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer. Install a new battery if the low-battery warning sounds or if the alarm fails to sound when tested.

Vacuum Alarms Annually

Dust can clog your smoke alarms. Battery-powered smoke alarms should be cleaned by opening the cover of the alarm and gently vacuuming the inside with a soft bristle brush.

For electrically-connected smoke alarms, first shut off the power to the unit and then gently vacuum the outside vents of the alarm only. Turn the power back on and test the alarm.

Replace Older Smoke Alarms

All smoke alarms wear out. If your alarm is more than 10 years old, replace it with a new one.

Plan Your Escape

Make sure that everyone knows the sound of the smoke alarm and what to do if it activates. Create an escape plan with the entire household and practice it. Make sure your plan identifies two ways out of each room, if possible and a meeting place outside. Once outside, stay outside. Never re-enter a burning building. Call the fire department from a neighbour's home or cell phone.

Date edited: 09/29/2017