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What’s the deal with Carbon Monoxide Detectors?

By on September 1, 2015 in Home Safety

Q: Why do we need Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors in our homes?

A: The simple answer is – anytime we are burning any type of fossil fuel in our home, whether it’s a heating system or an appliance that uses a fossil fuel, we should have an active CO Detector installed to detect any leaking gases inside the home.

Types of heating systems that burn fossil fuel are:

  • Oil-Fired Furnaces
  • Natural Gas Furnaces
  • Oil-Fired Boilers
  • Natural Gas Boilers
  • Woodstoves
  • Fireplaces
  • Wood Pellet Stoves
  • Propane Space Heaters

Types of appliances located in your home that could use fossil fuels:

  • Natural Gas Stoves
  • Gas Powered Dryers

It is recommended that have a CO Detector installed on every floor where you have a fossil fuel burning appliance or heating system in order to detect the dangerous gases. Most of these devices are tested and typically operate efficiently, but should there ever be a condition such as a clogged vent line or other malfunction, gases can escape and present a very dangerous situation. A car left running in a garage or a generator being run in the garage can cause the gas to buildup to dangerous levels in your home.

Q: How dangerous is exposure to CO gas?

A: Exposure to Carbon Monoxide gas can cause death in mere moments. Even in small doses it can be deadly or cause permanent damage if not noticed in time.

According to the American Medical Association, CO poisoning is the number one type of poisoning in the United States. Exposure to this type of gas can not be taken lightly.

Q: What is Carbon Monoxide?

A: The gas is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and of course invisible to the eye.

When someone is exposed to the gas, the symptoms read like when they have symptoms of the flu or a cold – nausea, headaches, shortness of breath, and of course sleepiness.

Q: so what do you do when your Carbon Monoxide alarm goes off?

A: Quickly get all your family members and pets out of the home to fresh air. If any flu-like symptoms are present, call 911. If possible, try to open windows to air out the house. Do not reenter the home until the authorities have cleared the home for reentry and discovered the source of the gas leak.

Note that CO detectors usually need to be replaced every 5-7 years. And if you have a battery operated model, check the batteries every 6 months.