If your smoke or carbon monoxide alarm sounds, all members of the household should leave the home immediately and call 911 from outside the home. 

Don't go back inside until the problem has been found and corrected. Toronto Fire Services will inspect your home to find the source of the carbon monoxide.

In case of fire or emergency, call 911.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

In Ontario, more than 80% of injuries and deaths from CO occur in the home:

  • CO is known as the silent killer because it is an invisible, tasteless and odourless gas that can be deadly
  • 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, generators and vehicles
  • exposure to CO can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, as well as confusion, drowsiness, loss of consciousness and death

Legally you are required to have (CO) carbon monoxide alarm(s) in your home if you have a fuel-burning appliance, a fireplace or an attached garage.

If your home has a fuel-burning appliance, a fireplace or an attached garage, you must have a working CO alarm adjacent to each sleeping area of the home. For added protection, install a carbon monoxide alarm on every story of the home according to manufacturer's instructions. Fuel-burning appliances can include furnaces, hot water heaters, gas or wood fireplaces, portable fuel-burning heaters and generators, barbecues, stoves and vehicles

Maintaining a carbon monoxide alarm

Test your carbon monoxide alarm regularly to make sure it is operating properly. The owner's manual should tell you how to test your alarm. Remember to check the manual for information on when to buy a new carbon monoxide alarm.

It is a requirement of the Ontario Fire Code that smoke alarms be installed in all dwellings, homes and apartments. Smoke alarms are required to be installed on every level and outside each sleeping area.

It is the responsibility of the property owner to ensure smoke alarms are installed and maintained. It is an offence under the Fire Code for anyone, including tenants, to disable a smoke alarm

Best location to place a smoke alarm

Smoke alarms must be installed on every level of a home and outside each sleeping area. If a sleeping area is served by a hallway, in the hallway. If a sleeping area is not served by a hallway, between the sleeping area and the remainder of the dwelling unit.

If possible, avoid installing smoke alarms near bathrooms, kitchens, windows and ceiling fans. Alarms must be installed on or near the ceiling (not in the corner). Always install smoke alarms in accordance with the manufacturer's installation instructions. Consult the manufacturer's instructions for complete information.

If false alarms occur and become a nuisance, be sure to install smoke alarms with a "hush" button. The hush feature temporarily silences the alarm (approximately 5 minutes) after which it automatically resets to normal operating condition. This gives residents time to clear the air of cooking fumes from the kitchen or steam from the bathroom area.

Never disable a smoke alarm by removing batteries or disconnecting power.

Best smoke alarm to install or buy

The Fire Code requires that smoke alarms meet the Canadian Standard CAN/ULC-S531. Smoke alarms which are available at any home supply store. Any smoke that has the ULC mark is suitable for home use.

Smoke alarms may be battery operated or electrically hardwired. If smoke alarms are electrically hardwired and/or interconnected to other smoke alarms it is important to replace them with electrically hardwired and/or interconnected alarms if replacement is required.

Consult a licensed electrician or alarm technician for concerns with electrically hardwired smoke alarms

Maintaining a smoke alarm

Install a new battery of the proper type at least once a year..."Change your clock, change your battery". If the low battery warning beeps, replace the battery immediately. Press the "alarm test" button after replacing the battery to ensure the alarm is operating.

Never remove a smoke alarm battery for use in other devices. It is an offence under the Ontario Fire Code for anyone, including tenants, to disable a smoke alarm.

Dust can clog a smoke alarm and cause false nuisance alarms, so carefully vacuum the outside of the unit using a soft bristle brush vacuum attachment at least once every six months.

Smoke alarms do wear out, if your alarms are more than 10 years old as indicated by the date marking on the alarm or if you are unsure how old they are, replace them with new ones.

Always maintain smoke alarms in accordance with the manufacturer's installation instructions and keep the instructions for future reference.

Smoke alarm beeps or chirps about once every minute

An intermittent beep or chirping sound (about once a minute) indicates that the smoke alarm battery is losing power. Install a new battery of the proper type immediately. Press the "alarm test" button after replacing the battery to ensure the alarm is operating.

For more information on household smoke alarm safety and disposal, visit the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission website.

Note: For enforcement of carbon monoxide and smoke detector regulations contact the District Fire Prevention Command office.

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