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Staying Safe With the Right Carbon Monoxide Detector

man installing a CO detector

Choosing a Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarm

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission cites, “carbon monoxide as the leading cause of gas poisoning death in the U.S.”

“Thousands of cases of illness, brain damage, and death could be prevented if all residents had CO detectors,” notes Iowa State University (ISU) Professor Dr. Thomas Greiner in an ISU Extension Publication, which is available online.

That same publication provides a wealth of helpful information on how to select and use a carbon monoxide detector. Among the highlights:

  • Choose a detector listed with Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
  • Both battery and AC-powered detectors have advantages. The battery-operated detector is easy to install and move and operates during power outages when emergency heating systems may be used.
  • A plug-in detector does not depend on a battery and does not require battery and sensor replacement.
  • AC line-powered detectors with a battery pack also are available at a slightly higher cost.
  • Detectors that are wired together offer the most protection because they will all sound when CO is detected by any detector.

Installing Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Once you decide which type of detectors to buy, you will need to consider where to install them. It is required by law to place a carbon monoxide detector within 10 feet of each bedroom. Dr. Greiner of ISU also recommends locating additional detectors near fossil fuel appliances, but “at least 15 feet from the furnace, water heating or cooking appliances.” He urges “not mounting them in dusty, dirty or greasy areas, or in extremely humid areas.”

For best results, read and follow the directions provided with your new carbon monoxide detectors. Once your detectors are installed, make sure to check that they are working on a monthly, or even weekly, basis. Keep them clean, dust-free, and supplied with working batteries when applicable.

You can also purchase one during a routine maintenance visit from a Standard Heating technician.

What to do if your detector sounds off?

The NFPA advises “immediately moving to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrives (and do not return until you get the ‘all clear’ from emergency responders).”

Plan ahead by contacting your local fire department’s non-emergency number to ask for the proper number to call if the CO alarm sounds. Keep the number clearly posted by your detectors and in your mobile phone contact directory. If you don’t know where to call, call 9-1-1.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission says “Never ignore a carbon monoxide alarm. . . it is warning of you a potentially deadly hazard.” We could not agree more!

The Peace of Mind, Behind A Tune-Up

Once the immediate threat has passed, do not become complacent. Dr. Greiner from Iowa State University recommends always getting to the cause of your alarm going off. This is where Standard Heating professionals can be of particular help to you.

“Find out what caused the alarm,” advises Dr. Greiner. “Contact your heating contractor for help in tracking down the CO source. Determine why the CO remained in the house versus venting outside…Be persistent…Carbon monoxide causes confusion, irrational thinking, memory loss, and fatigue. The detector will alarm before these symptoms occur. It is important to respond to the alarm before continued exposure disables occupants.”

Our goal at Standard Heating & Air Conditioning is to provide you with tips on how to ensure the safety of you and your family. Do not hesitate to call us for help in servicing your heating and cooling equipment. We check CO levels on every tune-up we perform. If you are interested in scheduling a tune-up please call (612) 324-1015 to schedule!

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