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Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms - Making Sure They Work When Needed

An estimated 2,850 people die and 15,900 people are injured annually because of fires in residences. Although more than 90 percent of homes have smoke alarms, millions of homes have alarms that do not work. Missing or dead batteries are the main cause for non-working smoke alarms - U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission


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Carbon Monoxide Detector



What is the best way to prevent smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm batteries from being pilfered for use in another device?


Carbon monoxide alarm and smoke alarm manufacturers offer battery compartment designs that are standard, "tamper-resistant", or "sealed".

"Tamper-resistant" battery compartments are typically secured by the installer with either a threadless plastic pin or a plastic tab provided by the alarm manufacturer. Both the pin and tab can be disabled with your finger, and the standard or lithium batteries easily removed.

"Sealed" battery compartments contain lithium batteries that are factory soldered and sealed within the base of the unit. The batteries are non-removable.


A carbon monoxide and smoke alarm's lithium batteries should be "factory sealed" to prevent the home occupants or guests from robbing the batteries and rendering the alarm inoperable.



Both the CO and smoke alarms that we install have a battery compartment that is factory sealed. Should we also secure the alarm body to its mounting plate or the wall with a tamper-resistant screw?


If a tamper-resistant screw is used to secure the alarm to the mounting plate or wall, then the tenant must be given the security tool so that the alarm can be removed when it expires after five to ten years. If the tenant who has the tool relocates, or the tool is misplaced, then the agency or contractor would need to return to the jobsite at the appropriate time to remove the alarm for the current occupants.

More importantly, if the battery compartment is not factory sealed, and a single tamper-resistant screw is used to secure both the battery compartment and the alarm to the mounting plate or wall, then, with the security tool, the occupants would have the ability to pilfer the batteries and prematurely disable the alarm.


When the battery compartment is factory sealed, the occupants are prevented from removing the alarm's lithium batteries for use in other devices. To avoid returning to the jobsite to uninstall the CO or smoke alarm when it expires, the alarm itself should be secured to the mounting plate or wall with standard screws.



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Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms - Making Sure They Work When Needed:  Created on August 8th, 2012.  Last Modified on March 30th, 2013


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Don Smith and Associates Inc. dba EnTech Supply represents manufacturers and distributors of safety, environmental, gas detection, and energy saving products.



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