Carbon monoxide (CO), a silent killer, is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, carbon monoxide kills approximately 170 people in the nation every year. This odorless, colorless and potentially lethal gas is indeed dangerous. However, the installation of a carbon-monoxide detector can help save the lives of you and your loved ones.
Choosing the best carbon-monoxide detector
The best detectors are those that alert you to a problem before you develop symptoms of CO poisoning. When shopping for a carbon-monoxide alarm, look for one that is a low-level digital carbon-monoxide detector or monitor. This type of alarm is so sensitive that it can detect deadly CO levels, as low as 5 ppm (parts per million), long before traditional detectors. It only takes CO levels of 15 ppm to cause illness and permanent damage.
Installing a CO detector
Install a carbon-monoxide detector on every floor of your home and within 10 feet of bedroom doors. If applicable, install one in your basement and near (or in) an attached garage. Essentially, you want the alarms that detectors sound to wake you and your loved ones from a deep sleep, if necessary.
You should not install a carbon-monoxide detector directly beside or above fuel-burning appliances, in humid areas of the home (like bathrooms), or within 15 feet of cooking or heating appliances. Since installation locations vary by manufacturer, read the recommendations provided for your specific model.
Preventing CO Poisoning
There are a few steps that you can take to ensure that you and your loved ones do not fall prey to the dangers of CO poisoning, including:
- Have a qualified professional inspect your heating systems and fuel-burning appliances annually, looking for potential areas from which they may leak CO.
- Never operate a gas engine-powered tool or generator in an enclosed space, such as an attached garage or basement.
- Never burn charcoal inside your home.
- Never use gas appliances to heat your home.
- Do not cover the bottom of natural gas or propane ovens with aluminum foil.
- Never leave a car running in a garage.
- Promptly replace low batteries on a CO alarm.
- Replace CO detectors every five years or by the manufacturer’s suggested replacement date.
For more expert advice about installing a CO detector and other issues related to home comfort, contact the experts at Overland Park Heating and Cooling at 913-649-0303. We’ve been serving residential and commercial customers in the Greater Kansas City area since 1983.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about carbon-monoxide detectors and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.