Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms

Smoke Alarms

The majority of fatal house fires occur at night, when most people are asleep. But a properly working smoke alarm can give you an early warning that there is a problem – this can mean the difference between safety and disaster. 

Current research shows that you have approximately 3 minutes to escape a house fire. The earlier your smoke alarm sounds, the quicker you can get out.

Smoke alarms primarily use two types of sensing technologies: photelectric and ionization. Photoelectric smoke alarms detect smoke quicker in slow, smoldering fires while ionization smoke alarms are quicker to detect the smaller smoke particles produced in fast spreading fires. Dual sensor alarms (photoelectric and ionization) are recommended for best protection. However, either type is better than none.

Installing/replacing smoke alarms

The Lenexa Fire Department recommends installing smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside each bedroom, and outside all sleeping areas. This may mean adding additional alarms throughout your home. In addition, smoke alarms that are ten years old should be replaced unless the manufacturer states otherwise.  They may still work when the “test” button is pressed, however the sensing technology can become less sensitive.  Follow these suggestions when purchasing new or replacement smoke alarms:

  • Smoke alarms should not be installed within ten feet of cooking appliances to avoid false alarms. 
  • Smoke alarms should be installed on the ceiling, or on the wall between 4 and 12 inches from the ceiling.
  • Installing alarms equipped with a sealed 10-year battery will eliminate the need to replace the batteries throughout the life of the alarm. 
  • If your home is equipped with wires supplying power or interconnecting them to other alarms, the new alarm should be capable of being plugged into the existing wires.
  • If your alarms are not interconnected by means of a common wire that plugs into your alarms, the Lenexa Fire Department recommends installing wirelessly interconnected alarms.

Smoke alarm maintenance

Follow these steps to ensure your smoke alarms are in good working condition:

  • Test them monthly or as recommended by the manufacturer. Press the test button to ensure the device beeps or rings loudly. Do not use open flames to test - this can cause it to fail during a real fire.
  • Replace the batteries at least twice per year or as recommended by the manufacturer. We recommend doing this at the same time you change your clocks for daylight-saving time.
  • Replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years or as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Do not disable smoke alarms when cooking.
  • Clean them regularly using a vacuum hose and attachment to remove dust and cobwebs (do not remove the cover when doing so).

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are equally as important as smoke alarms, and every home with a fuel-burning appliance or an attached garage should have CO alarms. They alert you to the presence of CO, which is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that cannot be detected with your normal senses and is extremely harmful to your health.

CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.  Many manufacturers offer combination smoke/CO alarms.  This option offers the best protection when all alarms are interconnected.

Sources of carbon monoxide

Improperly installed and vented gas ranges, furnaces, gas water heaters and gas-burning appliances are some of the most common sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles, lawnmowers and generators can also produce CO when they are used in or near your garage.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental death by poisoning – particularly in unborn babies, infants and senior citizens. Additionally, many CO poisoning cases are misdiagnosed as flu-like symptoms since the body can build up an immunity to it. 

Symptoms of CO poisoning include:

  • Headache

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Fatigue

  • Drowsiness

  • Confusion

  • Fast heart rate

  • Unconsciousness

  • Convulsions

If you suspect you or someone else is experiencing CO poisoning, call 911.

If you hear an alarm

If you hear any alarm sound, call 911 to have us investigate. We have special monitoring equipment that can check your home for carbon monoxide. 

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, please fill out the Office of the State Fire Marshal's Deaf & Hard of Hearing form. After submitting the form and being approved, the State Fire Marshal's Office will send a bed shaker and/or smoke alarm strobe to the Lenexa Fire Department to install in your home.

If you have questions about smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, call the Lenexa Fire Department Prevention Division at 913-477-7990.

Learn more about home safety

Home Safety Interest Form

Want additional information or have other questions about protecting your home and family in the event of a fire? Fill out the form below, and a member of the Lenexa Fire Department Prevention Division will contact you.  

If you are an elderly or disabled resident of Lenexa and would like to request an in-person home safety assessment by a member of the LFD Prevention Division, please indicate your request in the form below. You can also contact us at 913-477-7990 or [email protected].

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Do you own or rent your home?

Questions or concerns:

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Security Measure