Daylight saving: 5 things you need to know about smoke and CO alarms

Officials are reminding us to replace the batteries in our smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms

Daylight saving time begins this weekend, with most Canadians setting their clocks ahead early Sunday.

As always, officials are using the moment to remind us it is a good time to replace the batteries in our smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.

Aside from battery maintenance, here are five things every homeowner should know about these life-saving devices:

1. Smoke and CO alarms don’t last forever

The average smoke alarm should be replaced every 10 years. CO alarms can last between seven and 10 years, according to Kidde Canada, a subsidiary of the world’s largest manufacturer of fire safety products.

Over time, internal sensors lose sensitively due to air contaminants and dust buildup.

“There’s very low awareness about this,” says Kidde spokeswoman Sharon Cooksey.

Every alarm should have its date of manufacture displayed on the back. But if it doesn’t, take a close look at the colour of its plastic cover. If it’s tan, brown or grey, chances are the device is due for replacement, Cooksey says.

For those seeking a low-maintenance replacement, some manufacturers offer alarms with sealed, 10-year batteries. They are more expensive than regular alarms, but the cost of replacement batteries is typically covered over the life of the product.

These long-term alarms typically emit an end-of-life chirp sequence when they are ready for replacement.

2. Carbon monoxide poisoning can fool you

In the initial stages, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic those of influenza. Headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue are all signs of CO poisoning — and the flu.

Without a properly functioning CO alarm, making the right call could be difficult.

Among the main sources of carbon monoxide are malfunctioning, non-electric heating and cooking devices — and portable generators brought indoors during power outages.

“When people think they’re sick, they want to sleep it off,” says Cooksey. “But you can’t sleep off carbon monoxide poisoning.”

3. Not all smoke detectors are created equal

There are two basic types of smoke detector: photoelectric and ionization. Both are good at detecting fires.

However, photoelectric devices are particularly adept at detecting slow-burning, smouldering fires, while the ionization models are quicker at detecting fast-flaming fires, like cooking fires.

That’s why it’s better to have a photoelectric alarm in or near the kitchen, because it is less likely to go off every time you make toast.

4. Smoke and CO alarms are getting smarter

Like virtually every home appliance, newer smoke and CO alarms offer tech-savvy consumers some nifty options.

Some manufacturers offer alarms that are interconnected, which means that once one alarm sounds, the others in the home automatically do too.

This can be particularly useful if there are detectors in the basement, where they might not be heard when everyone is asleep upstairs.

There are also combination smoke/CO alarms and advanced units that can send emergency texts or emails through a WiFi setup.

5. Carbon monoxide alarms have their place

Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on each level of your home in areas where there is good air circulation. A corner along the ceiling is a bad option.

Homes with non-electric furnaces should have a CO detector in the basement. And if there’s only one detector for the bedroom area, it should be placed in a central location where everyone can hear it.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

Jennifer Rice BC NDP North Coast Incumbent was re-elected for a third according to the preliminary results on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Jennifer Rice is North Coast MLA for third term

Preliminary election results show NDP Majority government

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

Commissioner Austin Cullen looks at documents before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver on February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
RCMP lacked dedicated team to investigate illegal activities at casino, inquiry hears

Hearings for the inquiry are set to continue into next week and the inquiry is expected to wrap up next year

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Court approves money for B.C. foster children alleging harm from Kelowna social worker

The maximum combined total award for basic payments and elevated damages for an individual is $250,000

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never-before-seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Most Read