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Carbon Monoxide Detector Safety

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, odorless gas that is responsible for thousands of deaths every year. Stovetops, heating systems, and gas water heaters are just a few household items that may produce this gas. When carbon monoxide builds up in large amounts, the gas is extremely harmful and potentially deadly. An undetected carbon monoxide leak can poison your family before anyone is aware of it. Because the gas is colorless and odorless, carbon monoxide detectors are the best and only safeguard against this lethal threat.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Safety

By following these guidelines, you can be certain you and your family are protected.

  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm in every bedroom and on every level of your home just as you would a smoke alarm.
  • Ensure that CO detectors are interconnected so that you can hear the alarm from anywhere in the house.
  • Test all CO detectors twice a year by holding down the test button—if the alarm does not sound immediately, replace the batteries and repeat the test. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for replacement of your alarm; on average, alarms need to be replaced every 5 years.
  • Avoid installing CO detectors in your kitchen or within fuel-burning appliances because when many of these appliances are started, they emit a small amount of harmless CO.
  • Carbon monoxide leaks frequently occur around gas and oil furnaces, burners, and chimneys. Make sure that flames on these devices can burn freely and don’t allow debris to build up.
  • Never leave machines such as generators, fuel burning camping equipment, or cars running in an enclosed space, as they can cause CO buildup.
  • Know the symptoms of CO poisoning. Headache, dizziness, nausea, and chest pains could be caused by CO poisoning, especially when experienced by two or more household members.
  • If your carbon monoxide detector does go off, immediately check all members of the household for symptoms of CO poisoning; call 9-1-1 if anyone experiences a severe headache, vomiting, or dizziness. If no one has been poisoned, turn off all appliances in your home, and open all doors and windows for ventilation before contacting your local fire department or an emergency repair service.
  • Make sure that the problem is inspected and repaired by a qualified technician before restarting any appliances.

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