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Texas Department of Insurance
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October 7, 2021

Is your smoke or carbon monoxide alarm chirping? Here’s what it’s telling you.


Just about everyone has woken up to the sounds of a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm going off in the middle of the night. But what do those chirps and beeps mean? In our latest video, we asked the National Fire Protection Association what the noises mean and how to stay safe from fires and carbon monoxide. Here’s a simple guide:

  • Smoke alarms alert you with three beeps in a row.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms alert you with four beeps.
  • A single chirp means the battery is low or the detector should be replaced.

Some newer alarms also have a voice that gives you directions. Other alarms, made for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, shake your pillow or have a strobe light.

  • Every alarm has a manufacture date or an expiration date. Replace your alarms before the expiration date, or within 10 years of the manufacture date.
  • Test your alarms once a month.
  • Replace the batteries once a year.
  • Replace the alarms at least every 10 years.

When you buy new alarms, put them inside and outside each sleeping area. Not just bedrooms, but anywhere people sleep. If your garage is attached to your home, you need one there too.

Have a family escape plan and pick a safe place to meet outside. Then practice your plan so everyone’s ready when an alarm goes off. If someone in the house has mobility issues, make sure they sleep on the ground floor. It could be a matter of life and death.

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