Carbon Monoxide Alarms

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a common by-product of appliances that run flammable fuel. CO is caused from incomplete combustion of any type of fuel. CO can be emitted from furnaces, hot water heaters, space heaters, gas ranges, ovens, and dryers, and exhaust from running vehicles. A clogged chimney or improper venting can cause problems as well.

Prevention Tips - To prevent CO poisoning, don’t start your car in an attached garage and let it run. Back it outside and close the garage door to help eliminate the chance of CO being pushed back into your house by the wind. Have a qualified service technician give your gas appliances a yearly check-up and repair any problems. If the problems cannot be fixed then have the appliance replaced.

Symptoms of Exposure - The symptoms of CO exposure can vary from person to person and depend on how much you were exposed to. Mild exposures can cause slight headaches, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, or flu-like symptoms. More severe exposures can cause severe throbbing headaches, drowsiness, confusion, and fast heart rate. Extreme exposures can have unconsciousness, convulsions and death. Carbon Monoxide is an invisible, colorless, tasteless gas that kills and injures thousands each year. If the CO detector goes off, DO NOT open windows or doors - just exit the home immediately. Have a plan that includes a pre-designated meeting place so that all family members can be accounted for. Notify 911 and wait in a safe place until officials advise that the home is safe.

Recommendations - We recommend that if you use natural gas or propane in your home that you install at least one carbon monoxide detector per household. We recommend that you purchase a UL listed detector with LED readout. A detector can be purchased in any hardware store or any store that sells smoke detectors and home safety supplies. The average cost for a good CO detector is between $30 to $50. We suggest that the detector have a digital display on the front. The numbers on the display indicate that it has sensed CO in the home and is reading how many parts per million are in the home. Some detectors may read that the battery backup is low and the battery needs to be replaced. Please see owner’s manual. Mount a detector on each level of your home outside sleeping areas about five feet off the floor.

CO detectors should be vacuumed out periodically throughout the year. Many of the newer models have a battery backup. When you change your batteries in your smoke detector also change your battery in your CO detector. If the detector is older than five years it should be replaced. The electrochemical sensor in the detector only has a five year life expectancy.

Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer because it is colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. Carbon Monoxide or otherwise known as CO is a product of incomplete combustion. The only way to know we are breathing this oxygen depriving gas is through detection. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself and other loved ones.
  1. First install a UL approved CO detector on every level of your home, making sure one is by the bedrooms.
  2. Test the detectors monthly and change the batteries every six months.
  3. If the CO detector alarms check it for proper operation, get everyone out leaving windows and exterior doors closed. (Call 911)
  4. Have a licensed professional install or perform yearly maintenance on furnaces and keep all fuel burning appliances working properly. (Stove, dryer, fireplace etc…)
  5. Make sure to warm up vehicles outside rather than in the garage.
  6. Watch if you or other family members feel sick at home but fine when out of the house.
  7. Symptoms of CO poisoning which can mimic the flu include headaches, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, confusion, elevated heart rate leading up to unconsciousness, convulsions, major organ failure and even death.
  8. Small children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems are more susceptible to Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
  9. Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Smoke Alarms, with battery back-up, are essential and are even more critical when using emergency generators and alternate heat sources. The use of an emergency generator and alternate heat sources, if not used properly, increases your chances of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Click on the links below to find out more on carbon monoxide and how to protect you and your family.

CBS Story: Carbon Monoxide - Silent Killer

CDC Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide - Protect Yourself

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide Safety Video