According to the National Building Code, when a residence is renovated or during the construction of a new home, smoke detectors must be installed to warn users of a fire. Not only must a smoke detector be installed near sleeping areas, but there must be one on every floor, including the basement.
The alarm system must be certified by the Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada (ULC). The ULC logo or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) logo confirms that the alarm system was manufactured in accordance with applicable standards and duly tested.
You should test your alarm system once a month—simply push the test button to hear the signal. In addition, once a year, or after an absence of more than seven days, you should test the system’s ability to detect smoke; to do so, blow out a candle near the smoke detector. If it is linked to a central system, you must ensure that the signal was indeed transmitted.
What about carbon monoxide?
According to the recently revised National Building Code, it is now mandatory to install carbon monoxide detectors in new residences with a combustion system or an indoor garage.
Carbon monoxide gas is produced by the combustion of products such as wood, gasoline, fuel oil, natural gas, propane gas, kerosene and naphtha. Many people are unaware of the dangers of this deadly gas which, unlike smoke, is odourless and does not irritate your eyes or throat.
Combustion gases are normally eliminated through chimneys or vents. However, if these exits are blocked, carbon monoxide emissions become a very real danger. Symptoms such as headaches or dizziness can provide warning signals of the danger, but only a carbon monoxide detector will properly protect your household. Smoke detectors are designed to detect smoke only. They will not be activated by carbon monoxide—not even by a strong concentration of the gas.
Carbon monoxide detectors must comply with the newly adopted ULC-2034 standard, which is much more rigorous than the previous standard. The packaging must include a certification and it must also be stated that the detector will be activated if a concentration of 150 particles per million (ppm) is present for 50 minutes.
Finally, if you have a back-up heating system, it is strongly recommended that you use a detector that will operate on batteries in the event of an electrical failure.
A wide array of models and prices to choose from
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are available in all reputable hardware and department stores. The cost depends on the features: power supply (electric, battery-operated or electric with back-up batteries), “panic button”, emergency light, lithium battery, etc.
A battery-operated smoke detector costs more than $15. Electric smoke detectors are slightly more expensive: from $30. Carbon monoxide detectors cost more than $40.
Now doesn’t that give you peace of mind?