Smoke Detector Laws by State
The laws regarding smoke detectors are simple. If you live in the U.S., then the law requires smoke detectors. That means that everyone must have (at least) one. Almost all states require hardwired smoke detectors to be installed in all new construction.
Some states have more strict requirements for smoke detectors. Iowa, for example, requires that all battery-powered smoke detectors have a 10-year sealed battery in single-family and two-family homes and townhouses. California requires smoke detectors in all bedrooms and hallways on each level of a house.
The Importance of Smoke Detectors
Fires destroy property, and in the worst scenarios, fires kill. When it comes to the most deadly of fires, residential fires lead the way - and it isn't even close.
According to data from the U.S. Fire Administration, residential fires are the leading fire damage loss, being responsible for damages totaling over $8.6 billion nationwide in 2020. Residential fires are also the leading cause of fire-related injuries, accounting for nearly 77% of all fire-related injuries. Though the number of injuries decreased in 2020, there were still 11,825 injuries due to residential fires.
Lastly, and most gravely, residential fires are responsible for more than 72% of all fire deaths. There were 2,615 residential fire deaths in 2020. It is numbers like these that also help explain why smoke detector laws apply to every state. The same can't be said for carbon monoxide detectors yet, but we are getting closer.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Catching a Silent Killer
Dubbed the "silent killer," there was no humor intended when talking about the issue of carbon monoxide poisoning. As many are already aware, carbon monoxide is an odorless and tasteless gas that prevents the body from getting oxygen. Without detection, a problem with carbon monoxide gas can become deadly.
Many sources can be the cause of carbon monoxide poisoning too. Most of those sources are also everyday items that we use regularly in our homes. That includes sources like furnaces and water heaters, electric space heaters, generators, and even our vehicles. This potential for such a deadly and announced threat is also why there has been such a push for states to mandate carbon monoxide detector laws.
The Remaining Few
While most states have fallen in line, there are still a few that haven't yet required carbon monoxide detectors in homes. Those states include Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, and Missouri.
Many states, however, require carbon monoxide detectors in all new home builds but do not have the same requirement for existing structures. The good news is the message is out and action is being taken. It seems only a matter of time before carbon monoxide detectors, like smoke detectors and alarms, become law for every building in every state.