What’s that sound? Know your alarms to know when to call 911


Fire departments across Muskoka have been responding to an increased number of false alarms where smoke or carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are at the end of their life or have a low battery condition.

Alarms will make a “chirping” sound usually once every 15 – 30 seconds when the battery is low or the alarm has reached the end of its life.

Knowing the sounds that your smoke or carbon monoxide alarms make will ensure that you respond accordingly.

The Muskoka Fire Prevention Officers are urging residents to consult the instruction manual for their particular alarm and know the different signals that their device makes. Testing your alarms monthly will help you become familiar with the sounds your alarm makes and will ensure that your device is ready to alert you to a true emergency.

Some of the same factors that cause unwanted alarms can also cause intermittent alarms:
1. Alarms can collect dust that affects their operation. Vacuum and dust your alarms regularly.
2. Improper locations. Avoid these areas:
a. Near bathroom doors where shower steam could affect their operation.
b. Stay away from heating vents or returns which can contribute to dust collection in the units.
c. Keep at least five feet away from fuel burning appliances or their vents to avoid false activations. Install them in the locations recommended by the manufacturer.
3. Battery failure. Change the batteries when you change your clocks.
4. Unfamiliarity with the device operation and the signals they make. Read and understand all the manufacturers’ instructions/specifications.
5. Alarms don’t last forever. Replace the device when it reaches 7-10 years old or as the manufacturer recommends.

The Muskoka Fire Prevention Officers urge residents to always react when an alarm activates.

Gravenhurst FPO Breyan Sinnott states, “Know the signals your unit makes and respond accordingly. Whether a low battery signal, a malfunctioning unit or a true alarm: Your life depends on your actions. When your smoke or carbon monoxide alarm is in continuous alarm, not intermittent beeping, it is an emergency and you should evacuate and call 911 for the fire department to respond.”

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  1. Hello, I moved into Settler’s Ridge last year and had a lot of false alarms with our smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. After a few occasions we called the builder since we are under a new home warranty. We finally found out from them that they have a number of dwellings that had incompatible smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed in them. We insisted they replace them with compatible one’s and were finally successful. No problems since!

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