October is fire prevention awareness month, and winter is prime time for fires due to people using unsafe techniques to warm up. How do you install smoke and CO2 alarms? Where do you place them? How many do you need?

Install smoke alarms inside every bedroom and outside each sleeping area. In addition, a smoke alarm should be installed on each level of your home.

Smoke alarms should be high on the wall (but not less than 12 inches away from the ceiling) because smoke rises. For ceilings that are pitched, install the alarm within 3 feet of the peak but not within 4 inches down from the peak, called the apex. Make sure your alarms are not near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with them. They should also be at least 10 feet from a cooking appliance unless you enjoy hearing false alarms often!

The best way to protect your home is with interconnected alarms. To do so, you’ll probably need to hire a professional if using hard wiring. There are also wireless technology options. With interconnected smoke alarms, make sure they are from the same manufacturer.

Buy smoke alarms that show a label of a recognized testing laboratory and are combination ionization-photoelectric alarms, also known as dual sensor alarms. These respond to both flaming fires and smoldering fires

Carbon monoxide mixes with the air, so these alarms should be at knee level (to meet the height of a sleeping person). You can move them up to chest height if needed in a home with young children. A single-function carbon monoxide alarm is typically recommended. If you have a dual smoke-CO detector, put it higher up so it can detect smoke. Make sure to put at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level. Extra detectors near sleeping areas are also a good idea. Any place where you have a fuel-fired appliance such as a gas fireplace or gas clothes dryer, make sure you have a CO2 alarm.


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