Home Safety Alarms: Care Instructions

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Overview

Home safety alarms save lives. For example, a smoke alarm can detect small amounts of smoke. This can give you time to escape from a fire. And a carbon monoxide alarm can let you know about this deadly gas before it starts to make you sick. It's important to have both kinds of alarms near all the sleeping areas and on each level of your home.

You can buy alarms with different features. For example, if you have a smoke alarm that is set off by steam or cooking smoke, you can buy one with a hush alarm. This lets you push a button that turns off the alarm and makes it less sensitive for a short time.

If you put in new alarms, look for long-life alarms with lithium batteries. You may also want to look for ones that can detect both smoke and carbon monoxide.

In a newer home, alarms are wired in by an electrician. This type of alarm is electric, with a backup battery.

Your local fire department can give you more information on how to prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. They can also help you make a fire escape plan, use fire safety devices, and provide first-aid.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in your house.
  • Put smoke alarms:
    • On each level of your home, in the hallway outside sleeping areas, and inside each bedroom.
    • On the ceiling or high up on a wall. This is where smoke goes first. Avoid places near stoves, doors, windows, or air ducts.
  • Put a carbon monoxide alarm in the hallway outside of the bedrooms in each sleeping area of the house. The alarm should be placed high on the wall. Make sure that the alarm can't be covered up by furniture or drapes.
  • Make sure your safety alarms are working at all times. You can test them every month by pressing the test button.
  • If an alarm makes a chirping sound, replace the battery right away.
  • Replace non-lithium batteries twice a year. Put this on your calendar ahead of time. Some people change alarm batteries when they reset their clocks in the spring and fall.
  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
  • Plan and practice fire escape routes. Make sure you have at least two for each area of your home. This includes upper stories and the basement.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • A smoke or carbon monoxide alarm sounds. Tell everyone to get out of the building. Stand outside until firefighters arrive.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have questions about how to use a home safety alarm.




The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.