Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms

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Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Keeping your home and family safe – Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms provide peace and comfort.  Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are inexpensive marvels.  What do these devises offer?

  1. Provide life-saving warnings.
  2. Get you out of the house before trapped.
  3. Save on home insurance.
  4. Provide 24/7 life-saving monitoring.
  5. Easy and affordable way to save your house, treasures, and heirlooms.

In Orange County, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are required in all residential houses, condominiums, townhouses, and apartments.  Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms may be combined as a single unit.

Combination smoke and Carbon Monoxide AlarmBefore we get started, I want to make a critically important point.  DO NOT PURCHASE THE CHEAPEST SMOKE OR CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM YOU CAN FIND.  These two devices may very likely be responsible for saving the lives of you and your children.  Do not let you or your family become a statistic to save a few dollars.  Below is a table with my favorites.

Smoke alarms provide an early warning of a fire.  This gives people additional escape time.

Consider further these grim statistics from the U.S. Fire Marshal:

  • Almost three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (40%) or no smoke alarms that were working (17%).
  • Two-thirds (67%) of home fire deaths were caused by fires in homes with smoke alarms powered by Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarmsbattery only.
  • The death rate per 1,000 reported home fires was more than twice as high in homes that did not have any working smoke alarms (12.3 deaths per 1,000 fires).  Either because no smoke alarm was present or an alarm was present but did not operate versus in homes with working smoke alarms (5.7 deaths per 1,000 fires).
  • In fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, more than two of every five (43%) of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries.
  • Dead batteries caused one-quarter (25%) of the smoke alarm failures.

For more information on smoke alarms, see U.S. Fire Marshal – Smoke Alarms.

Where do I install smoke alarmsSmoke Alarms – Per 2010 California Residential Code, smoke alarms are required (1) In sleeping areas (2) outside every sleeping area (3) In each story, including basements.

All newly installed smoke alarms must have a 10-year battery.  Smoke alarms must be replaced 10 years from the date of manufacture marked on the unit (CBC 907.2.11.2, CRC 314).  If it is new construction, the (a) Smoke alarm must be direct wired with a battery backup (b) interconnected (when one sounds, they all sound).

Wiring a smoke alarmTest your smoke & carbon monoxide alarms at least once monthly.

More than 3/4 of smoke detector failures can be traced to missing/dead batteries or failure of hardwired power. Approximately 10% of smoke detector failures are attributed to lack of maintenance, improper placement, or a defective unit.  Failure is also caused by painting over smoke alarms.

There are two common types of smoke alarms.

  • Photoelectric alarms detect smoldering fires quicker.  These are often recommended because homeowners are less likely to disable the alarm because of nuisance alarms. These are the more expensive smoke alarm option.
  • Ionization alarms are best at detecting fast flaming fires. These are the fires that typically occur when homeowners are asleep.  The fire occurs unexpectedly, and homeowners need to be alerted immediately. In the home, a combination of the two together will be the most effective.
Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Carbon monoxide alarm only
Kidde Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm

Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms

The California Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act (Senate Bill 183) and the 2010 California Residential Code (as amended for 2013) in section 315 state that carbon monoxide alarms (detectors) must be installed on or before July 1, 2011, in single-family dwelling units. The fine for failing to comply is $200.00.

Carbon monoxide alarms must receive their primary power from the building wiring not on a disconnecting switch and equipped with a battery backup (CRC 315).  Where there is no power supply, the Carbon Monoxide alarm may be solely battery operated (CRC 315).  If it is new construction, the Carbon Monoxide alarm must be electric with a battery backup.

Carbon monoxide is the “silent and invisible killer”.  It has no smell, color, or taste.  Therefore, it is one of the most common causes of death due to poisoning in America.  Carbon monoxide is a gas.  It is colorless, odorless, and produced from fuel-burning devices.  These include heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, clothes dryers, water heaters, and cooking appliances.  The gas can be fatal.

Test your alarms monthly. If your carbon monoxide alarm has replaceable batteries, change every 6 months (change at the beginning and at the end of day light savings time).

Carbon monoxide alarms have a limited lifetime. They have a lifetime of anywhere between 5 to 7 years.  Always check the specific product for lifetime.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

CO poisoning creates flu-like symptoms like dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion, or fainting.

How common is CO poisoning?

Each year, 400 Americans die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.   Approximately 20,000 more visit the emergency room.

Install carbon monoxide alarms on every floor, including basements.  Depending on the circumstance, it might be a good idea to install an alarm in the garage.

DAD’s Construction Favorite Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Below are my current favorite alarms.  These are the models I recommend to my clients.  I trust my family’s safety to these alarms.  What makes the below my favorites?  Twice each year, I spend a considerable amount of time researching smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.  There is no cheaper or better way to protect your family from an unsuspecting fire or poisonous carbon monoxide.  Below are my favorites.  These great quality alarms are durability, have few nuisance alarms, reset quickly without any intervention, and have great warranties.  They have a terrific reputation and most importantly, are very reliable and they work.



Kidde® Code One™ Smoke Detector (model 21028780) – Battery Only


Kidde® Smoke Detector (model 21010407-A) – Electric/Battery Back-up


Kidde® Carbon Monoxide Alarm (model 21028805) – Battery Only


Kidde® Smoke/Fire/Carbon Monoxide Voice Alarm (model 21027454) – Battery Only


Kidde® Smoke/Fire/Carbon Monoxide Voice Alarm (model 21026515) – Electric/Battery Back-up


1Availability subject to change – All products as of May 6, 2020.

For more information from top fire safety professionals, read about Home Fire Facts to stay safe.

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