Wondering which sort of CO alarm to get, where to install it and how to maintain it?

A safety officer answers queries about installation, maintenance

Toronto Star, Apr 16 2016
Samantha Hoffman and Jacqueline Kovacs, SPECIAL TO THE STAR

You may know that, by Ontario law, you have to have a CO alarm in your residence. But maybe you’re wondering which sort of alarm to get, where to install it and how to maintain it. We asked Samantha Hoffmann, public fire and life safety officer for the city of Barrie, for answers to these questions.

Where do I install my CO alarm?

You need to have a CO alarm outside any area where people are sleeping. If you only have bedrooms on the top floor of your home, the minimum is you need to have a CO alarm outside of where those bedrooms are located. But if you have company come and set up a bed in the basement, then you should have a CO alarm down on those levels as well.

If your CO alarm is located far away from your bedroom, and the emergency happens in the middle of the night, the alarm will not wake you up. You will just build the sounds into your dream and you won’t respond. It needs to be by your sleeping area — loud and piercing — to drive you to action.

How do I maintain my CO alarm?

You need to clean it a few times a year and make sure it’s in a well ventilated area. Plus, CO alarms do have to be replaced. People make a common mistake of thinking that as long as their alarms are hard-wired into their homes, they are safe. You actually need to check expiry dates. Any alarm that is made before 2009, for example, must be replaced.

What kind of CO alarm should I get?

There are worry-free alarms that are solely lithium-battery powered, as well as hard-wired models with lithium-battery powered backup. If you have hard-wired alarms, always replace them with hard-wired alarms. The nice thing about worry-free alarms is that you don’t ever have to replace the battery — they are sealed units and last 10 years. In 10 years, you simply replace the entire device