I have a smoke alarm. Do I need a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm?

A smoke alarm is not a substitute for a CO alarm and vice versa.  Combination smoke / carbon monoxide alarms are a great option but not necessary as long as you have the appropriate number and placement of working smoke and CO alarms in your home.  Make sure you know the difference between the sound of your smoke alarm and the sound of your CO alarm.

Is a portable carbon monoxide alarm as reliable as a plug-in carbon monoxide alarm?

Absolutely! Portable, battery-operated CO alarms are a great option for camping, RVing and travelling. No matter what type of alarm you choose, install and maintain it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This means:

  • Installing a CO alarm on every level of  your home, in sleeping areas, and placed at least 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances. If your home has only one CO alarm, it should be installed in the main bedroom or in the hallway outside of the sleeping area
  • Never installing a CO alarm near windows or vents, bathrooms, heating, fuel-burning appliances, smoke alarms (unless it’s a combination alarm) or at the peak of a vaulted ceiling
  • Making sure nothing is covering or obstructing the alarm
  • Testing each CO alarm at least once a month by pressing the test/reset button
  • Cleaning each alarm according to manufacturer’s instructions
  • Replacing batteries and the entire unit according to manufacturer's instructions

I tested my carbon monoxide alarm but the alarm did not sound?

If your CO alarm fails to respond when tested, change the batteries and try again. If the device still fails to sound, replace the entire unit immediately.

Replace your alarm according to manufacturer’s instructions, typically around the 10-year mark. An easy way to remember is to write down the expiration or replacement date on the CO alarm housing. At a glance, you'll know when to get a new one.

Check out what the BC government has to say about carbon monoxide awareness.