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Where To Place Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Where To Place Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Where To Place Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Ensuring our home is properly equipped with safety devices provides peace of mind and protects our loved ones. Thoughtfully placing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors increases their effectiveness at alerting us to potential dangers. By following safety guidelines, we can determine the ideal locations to install these lifesaving devices.

Locating Smoke Alarms for Maximum Coverage

Strategically positioning smoke alarms allows them to detect fires as early as possible, giving our families precious extra moments to safely evacuate. We should install a smoke detector on every level of the home, inside every bedroom, and in central gathering spaces.


Smoke alarms should be installed in each bedroom since fires often start at night while we are asleep. Placing them on the ceiling or high up on walls above any windows or doors provides the widest area of smoke detection. Models with battery backups or that interconnect with other home alarms ensure alerts will be heard if power is lost.


Smoke detectors located in hallways outside bedrooms can detect smoke originating from any room while the doors are closed. They also facilitate safe evacuation by alerting us to fire blocking exit routes before being trapped behind a closed door. Hallway smoke alarms should be on the ceiling at least 4 inches from any wall.

Living Spaces

Detectors in living rooms, family rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens provide extra protection since they are areas we occupy while awake. They allow fires starting in these central locations to be recognized early while still contained. We should install them high on the wall or ceiling at least 4 inches from any corner.

Multiple Levels

For multi-story homes, smoke detectors placed at the top and bottom of staircases detect fires that start upstairs and spread floor-to-floor via the open stairwell. They indicate when both upstairs and downstairs exit routes are unsafe. For finished basements, an additional smoke alarm should also be installed below ground level.

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Positioning Carbon Monoxide Alarms

While smoke detectors alert us to fast-moving fires, carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible threat requiring strategic detector placement to notify us of rising toxic levels before anyone feels symptoms. The most effective locations are near all sleeping areas and on every level with a fuel-burning appliance.

Sleeping Areas

Installing carbon monoxide alarms inside or directly outside of bedrooms ensures the devices will wake sleeping occupants if dangerous CO concentrations build up at night. Wall mounting at breath level allows the earliest possible warning of the odorless, invisible gas. Any bedrooms sharing the same hallway only require one alarm if doors are usually open.

Fuel-Burning Appliance Areas

CO detectors should be located on walls or ceilings within 15 feet of any room containing an appliance that burns natural gas, propane, heating oil, pellets, or wood. This includes furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces, stoves, ovens, and any generators or small engines that could be operated in an attached garage. Avoid installing alarms directly above these units to prevent false alarms.

One Per Floor

As carbon monoxide mixes uniformly in air and will rise through a home, each finished floor should contain a CO alarm. This provides broader detection than appliances zones alone. Ideal locations are hallways, bedrooms, or common living areas central to the floor plan. For split levels, treat each section with bedrooms as a separate floor.


For walkout or livable basements, including both laundry and recreation rooms, carbon monoxide detectors should be installed even if there are no fuel-burning appliances in the basement itself. CO from upper floors can descend via open staircases and pool at basement breath level, threatening those asleep downstairs the most.

In Closing

Strategic installation of smoke alarms on every floor, in every bedroom, and central gathering space combined with carbon monoxide detectors provides complete home safety coverage. Interconnected, wall-mounted units with battery backup offshore layers of protection and the earliest possible life-saving warnings for our families. Staying current on all safety guidelines allows us to locate detectors in the most effective configuration to alert us at the first signs of danger. With these invaluable devices watching over our households around the clock, we can rest easy knowing our homes provide sanctuary for our loved ones.

Let Callaway Security help you with smoke and carbon dioxide detector installation!