Smoke Detector Safety


Massachusetts has a law that before a house can sell, the town’s fire department must come in and inspect that the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in the right place and are working. The majority of the houses I see either have smoke detectors in the wrong spot or the batteries no longer work. Many houses don’t have carbon monoxide detectors until the owner installs them before the closing.

Whether you’re looking to sell now or not, take the time to replace the batteries in all of your smoke alarms and make sure that you have a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your house. Each city has their own requirements, but here are the basic rules:

Smoke Detectors

  • Since smoke is light, you should mount your smoke detectors on the ceiling, not on the wall
  • There should be a smoke detector at the top and bottom of every staircase (unless your basement stairs come up into your kitchen because the smoke from cooking will set it off, causing you to take out the battery and thereby defeating the purpose of having a smoke detector)
  • There should be a smoke detector no more than 10 feet away from all of your bedrooms (some towns require smoke detectors in each bedroom)
  • Change the batteries in your smoke detectors every time we move the clocks forward or backward to ensure you always have fresh batteries


Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  • Carbon monoxide is heavy, so mount your detector on the wall, not on the ceiling
  • Carbon monoxide detectors come either battery powered or as a plug in. If you get a plug in type, make sure it has a battery backup so your family stays safe in the event of a power failure.
  • There should be a carbon monoxide detector no more than 10 feet away from all of your bedrooms

    Your local fire prevention office will be happy to help answer any specific questions you have regarding carbon monoxide and smoke detector placement. The goal is to keep you and your family safe!