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.

Just Posted

Inquest scheduled into death of man in prison for gang-related killing

Gurwinder Mann, 39, died in Abbotsford while serving life sentence

Incident involves border runners, car crash and backpacks with suspected meth

Man arrested after ruckus in Sumas and Abbotsford on Thursday night

PHOTOS: The Nutcracker comes to Mission

Fraser Valley Academy of Dance presented The Nutcracker at the Clarke Theatre on Saturday

Mission Secondary presents comedy play Arsenic and Old Lace

Farcical murder mystery is full of gripping plot twists and surprises

PHOTOS: Mission’s Candlelight Parade

More than 80 floats took part in the annual holiday event in downtown Mission

VIDEO: Close encounter with a whale near Canada-U.S border

Ron Gillies had his camera ready when a whale appeared Dec. 7

B.C. Lions hire DeVone Claybrooks as head coach

Former Stampeders DC succeeds CFL legend Wally Buono

France shooting: 2 dead, several wounded in Strasbourg

A world-famous Christmas market was put on lock down on Tuesday

Canadian warship witnesses possible violations of North Korea sanctions

Crew members on HMCS Calgary took photos and collected other information

Christine Sinclair named Canadian Women’s player of the year again

This is the 14th time Sinclair has been named player of the year

B.C. man wants trapping laws changed after dog killed

Louis Seguin’s 10-month-old Australian shepherd died in a body-gripping trap last month

Nearly 8,000 homeless in B.C., first province-wide count reveals

Twenty-four seperate counts in B.C. cities found there are thousands of homeless in all corners of province

White Rock to allow dogs on promenade

Plans for a one-year pilot program would continue to ban canines on waterfront from May to August

Most Read