Protect your family from the “silent killer”
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, invisible gas that results when certain fuels do not burn completely. Unfortunately, it can be deadly, which is why it’s important to know how to prevent it, detect it, and protect yourself and your family from its effects.
In the home, carbon monoxide is most commonly formed by flames and heaters, as well as vehicles or generators that are running in an attached garage. As temperatures drop and more people are cranking the heat and warming up the car’s engine before hitting the road, it’s especially crucial to ensure your family’s safety against this lethal gas.
Since carbon monoxide cannot be detected without a carbon monoxide detection device, it is essential to install and maintain one or more detectors in your home. Read on for tips from CAL FIRE San Diego County Fire Authority on how to use your carbon monoxide detectors safely and most effectively.
Carbon Monoxide Detector Tips
- The International Association of Fire Chiefs recommends a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. A detector should be located within 10 feet of each bedroom door, and there should be one near or over any attached garage.
- You should replace each detector every five to six years.
- Battery-only carbon monoxide detectors tend to go through batteries more frequently than expected. Plug-in detectors with a battery backup (for use if power is interrupted) provide less battery-changing maintenance.
- Thoroughly read the installation manual that comes with the individual detector you purchase. Manufacturers’ recommendations differ to a certain degree based on research conducted with detectors for specific brands.
- Remember that carbon monoxide detectors do not serve as smoke detectors and vice versa. However, you can purchase a dual smoke/carbon monoxide detector that will perform both functions.
- Do not install carbon monoxide detectors next to fuel-burning appliances, as these appliances may emit a small amount of carbon monoxide upon startup.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Exposure
If you suspect that you or someone you know has been exposed to carbon monoxide, check for the following symptoms:
- Dull headache
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of consciousness
If any of the symptoms exist, move the individual into fresh air and seek emergency medical care immediately. Doing so could save his/her life.