Most fatal home fires happen at night when people are sleeping.
In reality, the smell of smoke may not wake a sleeping person. A
fire produces poisonous gases and smoke which can numb the senses
and put you into a deeper sleep.
Inexpensive household smoke alarms can save your life by sounding
an alarm alerting you to a fire, and giving you time to safely
escape. Home fire deaths have steadily decreased as the numbers of
homes with working smoke alarms has increased. Having working smoke
alarms in your home reduces your risk of dying in a fire by half.
Choosing A Smoke Alarm
When purchasing a smoke alarm, check to make sure that it has
been tested to the CAN/ULC S531-M standard by an approved testing
agency. There are two types of smoke alarms for home use. One type
is called an ionization alarm because it monitors "ions",
electrically charged particles. Smoke particles entering the sensing
chamber change the electrical balance of the air. The alarm sounds
when the change in electrical balance reaches a pre-set level. The
other type is called a photoelectric alarm because its sensing
chamber uses a beam of light and a light sensor. Smoke particles
entering the chamber change the amount of light that reaches the
light sensor. The alarm sounds when the smoke density reaches a
pre-set level. Both types of smoke alarms are acceptable and perform
effectively provided they are installed and maintained correctly.
How Many Smoke Alarms Do I Need?
It is recommended that every home have a smoke alarm outside each
sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the
basement. For maximum protection, consider installing a smoke alarm
in every bedroom.
Ensure everyone sleeping in your home can hear the sound of the
alarm even when the bedroom doors are closed. If anyone is hearing
impaired, install special smoke alarms that will alert them.
The installation of smoke alarms is governed by provincial
regulations and in certain areas by local by-laws. To ensure
compliance, check with your local jurisdiction.
Where Do I Install My Smoke Alarms?
Since smoke rises, install smoke alarms high on a wall or on the
ceiling. Take the time to read the manufacturer's instructions
carefully and follow them exactly. Do not install an alarm near a
window, door, or air register where drafts could prevent smoke from
reaching the alarm.
How Do I Maintain My Smoke Alarm?
It is very important to test and clean all smoke alarms
- Test your smoke alarms by pressing the test button once a
- Vacuum your smoke alarms twice a year to remove any dust or
dirt from the sensing chamber
- For battery operated smoke alarms, change the battery at least
once a year.
Remember, never "borrow" the smoke alarm's battery for
Smoke alarms do not last forever. Smoke alarms that are older
than 10 years are near the end of their service life and should be
What Do I Do If My Smoke Alarm Sounds?
Smoke alarms give your family a warning, but it is your
responsibility to get yourself and your family out of your home
safely. Your family will do the right thing if you've planned ahead
for a fire emergency.
- Ensure everyone knows what the smoke alarm sounds like.
- Plan your escape routes. Know at least two ways out of every
room and choose a meeting place outside your home where your
family can gather.
- Practice your home escape plan at least twice a year.
- When a smoke alarm sounds, leave right away. Go directly to
your family meeting place and call 9-1-1 from a neighbour's
- Remember, once you're out, stay out. Never go back inside a