Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are two of the simplest (and most impacting) things any homeowner can do to prevent potential life threatening situations. Every year, home fires cause approx. $7.5 billion worth of damage and injuries. Sadly, due to home fires, a human life was claimed every 169 minutes. 30% of these deaths could have been easily avoided if the residences had utilized working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

Carbon monoxide poisoning alone accounts for between 200-700 deaths annually in the U.S. These deaths, as well, can be prevented with a functioning carbon monoxide detector in place.

Here are just a few important issues to bear in mind before and after installing carbon monoxide and smoke detectors:

  • Depending upon one's purpose, any number of different types of carbon monoxide or smoke detectors might be most feasible. For smoke alarms, go with dual sensor. These are both ionization and smoke sensitive, and are able to detect different types of fires—smoldering versus lapping flames. That being said, no one brand of dual sensor smoke detector picks up every possible kind of fire.
  • Since it's best to install several detectors scattered throughout the levels of one's home, purchasing multiple brands amounts to extra safety. Each brand has its unique strengths at detecting one fire over another fire, for example.
  • Test smoke detectors monthly. Change batteries yearly - designate a single day so all detectors get fresh batteries simultaneously. Some detectors come with ten year lithium batteries. Since a home owner should replace the entire smoke detector every ten years, those with lithium batteries are best discarded completely.
  • Place smoke detectors on every level of one's home and in every bedroom. Photoelectric detectors are best for kitchens and bathrooms to prevent false alarms. Dual sensor detectors are best for all other spots.
  • Mount detectors at least four inches from walls and corners, and away from windows, fans and vents.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are slightly more costly than smoke alarms, but certainly not more costly than a human life. Starting at roughly $35, CO alarms that meet UL Standard 2034 are preferable. CO detectors are so sensitive that they are almost perishable - the fresher they are the better they work.
  • Check the manufacture date on backs of CO detectors at time of purchase. Test CO detectors weekly and vacuum them monthly. Remember to change the batteries annually, and as with smoke detectors, mount CO detectors on every level of the home, especially the basement.