Carbon Monoxide Facts for Homeowners

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless,  silent killer that, unfortunately, is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. The Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that there are approximately 2,100 accidental carbon monoxide poisoning deaths—each  year—in the U.S. But many of these deaths can be prevented with the use of carbon monoxide detectors.

Carbon monoxide is produced with combustion (fuel burning). Items such as gas or oil furnaces, gas clothes dryers, gas water heaters, gas space heaters, gas refrigerators, charcoal grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, and wood burning stoves can be potential sources of deadly carbon monoxide gases.

If your gas, oil, or wood burning appliances are free of malfunctions such as air pressure leaks or airway blockages and are properly vented to the outdoors, you will likely not have a problem with carbon monoxide in your home. (Make sure that you have your fuel burning appliances checked at least once a year by a professional for defects that could lead to carbon monoxide leaks).

But even if you keep up on such maintenance, there’s always a danger that your fuel burning appliances will malfunction without your awareness and release carbon monoxide gases. This is why carbon monoxide detectors are essential to your family’s health and safety.

Carbon monoxide detectors are easy to install and they offer you superb protection against carbon monoxide poisoning. Follow these tips when installing carbon monoxide detectors:

  • Install one detector outside of each bedroom or individual sleeping area.
  • Call your local fire department and ask what number you should call if the alarm on the detector sounds. Post this number beside the telephone or other easy-to-find location.
  • Test the alarm on the detector at least once a month.
  • Change the batteries in the detector once a year. (Many people change the batteries with the time change—either in the spring or in the fall—so that they never forget).

If your carbon monoxide detectors’ alarms sound:

  • Move everyone outside—immediately.
  • Call the phone number provided by your local fire department
  • Call a certified technician to inspect all of your fuel burning appliances

So if you have any fuel burning appliances, buy one, or several, carbon monoxide detectors. It’s the only chance you have of detecting this odorless, colorless,  deadly gas.