Safety Tips

Smoke Alarms

Only working smoke alarms save lives! Check your smoke alarms once a month by pressing and holding the test button for 3 to 5 seconds. If the alarm does not sound replace the battery and test it again to ensure that it’s working. And remember, if you’re smoke alarm is older than 10 years, it’s time to replace it! Make sure you replace it with a smoke alarm that has a built in 10 year battery.

Smoke Alarm Quick Tips

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home. For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound. View the Suggested Locations (PDF) for installing smoke alarms.
  • Test your smoke alarms every month.
  • When a smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside
  • There are two kinds of alarms. Ionization Smoke Alarms (PDF) are quicker to warn about flaming fires. Photoelectric Alarms (PDF) are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. It is best to use of both types of alarms in the home.
  • A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove. Smoke alarms near the kitchen should have a “hush” button that allows you to silence the alarm for several minutes while the smoke clears.
  • People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
  • Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.
  • Smoke alarms are an important part of a home fire escape plan

Smoke Alarm Stats

  • In 2007-2011, smoke alarms sounded in half of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments
  • Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms
  • No smoke alarms were present in more than one-third (37%) of the home fire deaths
Source: NFPA's "Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires" report, (March 2014)

Plan Your Escape

Your ability to get out of your house during a fire depends on advance warning from smoke alarms and advance planning. Get everyone in your household together and make a Home Escape Plan (PDF).

  • Walk through your home and look for two ways out of every room.
  • Make sure escape routes are clear of debris and doors and windows open easily.
  • Make sure everyone in the house knows how, and has practiced, opening the different types of windows in the home. Windows with security bars or grills should have an emergency release device.
  • Plan an outside meeting place where everyone will meet once they have escaped. A good meeting place is something permanent, like a tree, light pole, or mailbox a safe distance in front of the home.
  • If there are infants, older adults, family members with mobility limitations or children who do not wake to the sound of the smoke alarm, make sure that someone is assigned to assist them in the event of an emergency.
  • If the smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside. Respond quickly - get up and go, remember to know two ways out of every room, get yourself outside quickly, and go to your outside meeting place with your family.
  • Once you are out, stay out!

Carbon Monoxide Safety

Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide (CO) 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 can be sources of carbon monoxide.

  • CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height
  • Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory
  • Call your local fire department’s non-emergency number to find out what number to call if the CO alarm sounds
  • Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call the fire department
  • If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open
  • Newer keyless vehicles have been attributed to several carbon monoxide deaths. If you own this type of vehicle take special care to insure the vehicle has been turned off if it is parked inside a garage.
  • A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
  • Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO - only use outside.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide enters the body through breathing. CO poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning and other illnesses. Some symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness or headaches. High levels of CO can be fatal, causing death within minutes. The concentration of CO, measured in parts per million (ppm) is a determining factor in the symptoms for an average, healthy adult.

  • 50 ppm: No adverse effects with 8 hours of exposure.
  • 200 ppm: Mild headache after 2-3 hours of exposure.
  • 400 ppm: Headache and nausea after 1-2 hours of exposure.
  • 800 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 45 minutes; collapse and unconsciousness after 1 hour of exposure.
  • 1,000 ppm: Loss of consciousness after 1 hour of exposure.
  • 1,600 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 20 minutes of exposure.
  • 3,200 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 5-10 minutes; collapse and unconsciousness after 30 minutes of exposure.
  • 6,400 ppm: Headache and dizziness after 1-2 minutes; unconsciousness and danger of death after 10-15 minutes of exposure.
  • 12,800 ppm: Immediate physiological effects, unconsciousness and danger of death after 1-3 minutes of exposure.