CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR INFORMATION
is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fossil
fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, propane, oil and methane) burn incompletely.
In the home, heating and cooking equipment are possible sources of carbon
monoxide. Vehicles running in an attached garage could also produce dangerous
levels of carbon monoxide.
However, consumers can protect themselves against
CO poisoning by maintaining, using, and venting heating and cooking equipment
and by being cautious when using vehicles in attached garages.
What is the effect of exposure to CO?
CO replaces oxygen in the bloodstream, eventually causing suffocation. Mild
CO poisoning feels like the flu, but more serious poisoning leads to difficulty
breathing and even death.
Just how sick people get form CO exposure varies greatly from person to person,
depending on age, overall health, the concentration of the exposure (measured
in parts per million), and the length of exposure. Higher concentrations are
dangerous even for a short time.
When carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in the blood, a condition known as carboxyhemoglobin
(COHb) saturation results. Carboxyhemoglobin levels do not consider the length
of exposure. As more and more carbon monoxide accumulates in the blood, the
percentage of COHb gets higher and higher and people get sicker and sicker.
CALL 911 IF YOUR CARBON MONOXIDE
DETECTOR SOUNDS ITS ALARM. THE LONGM0NT FIRE DEPARTMENT WILL COME TO YOUR
HOUSE AND TAKE A READING OF THE CARBON MONOXIDE LEVEL AND DETERMINE WHAT YOUR
FAMILY SHOULD DO THIS IS A FREE SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY.
How can you protect yourself from CO poisoning?
The best defenses against CO poisoning are safe use of vehicles (particularly
in attached garages) and proper installation, use and maintenance of household
cooking and heating equipment.
You may also want to install CO detectors inside your home to provide early
warning of accumulating carbon monoxide. However, a CO detector is no substitute
for safe use and maintenance of heating and cooking equipment.
- IF YOU NEED TO WARM UP A VEHICLE, REMOVE IT FROM THE GARAGE IMMEDIATELY
AFTER STARTING THE IGNITION. DO NOT RUN A VEHICLE OR OTHER FUELED ENGINE OR
MOTOR INDOORS, EVEN IF GARAGE DOORS ARE OPEN.
- HAVE YOUR VEHICLE INSPECTED FOR EXHAUST LEAKS, IF YOU HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS
OF CO POISONING.
- HAVE FUEL BURNING HOUSEHOLD HEATING EQUIPMENT (FIREPLACES, FURNACES, WATER
HEATERS, WOOD STOVES, AND SPACE OR PORTABLE HEATERS) CHECKED EVERY YEAR BEFORE
COLD WEATHER SETS IN. ALL CHIMNEYS AND CHIMNEY CONNECTORS SHOULD BE EVALUATED
FOR PROPER INSTALLATION, CRACKS, BLOCKAGES OR LEAKS. MAKE NEEDED REPAIRS BEFORE
USING THE EQUIPMENT.
- BEFORE ENCLOSING CENTRAL HEATING EQUIPMENT IN A SMALLER ROOM, CHECK WITH
YOUR FUEL SUPPLIER TO ENSURE THAT AIR FOR PROPER COMBUSTION IS PROVIDED.
- WHEN USING A FIREPLACE, OPEN THE FLUE FOR ADEQUATE VENTILATION.
- THE DESIGN, CONSTRUCTION AND USE OF PORTABLE UNVENTED OIL BURNING HEATING
APPLIANCES SHALL BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH REPAIR GARAGES, OPEN PARKING GARAGE,
AIR CRAFT HANGERS, PRIVATE GARAGES, CARPORTS, SHEDS AND AGRICULTURE BUILDINGS.
PORTABLE UNVENTED OIL BURNING HEATING APPLIANCES SHALL BE LISTED AND SHALL
BE LIMITED TO A FUEL TANK CAPACITY OF 2 GALLONS.
- ALWAYS USE BARBECUE GRILLS WHICH CAN PRODUCE CARBON MONOXIDE OUTSIDE.
NEVER USE THEM IN THE HOME OR GARAGE.
- WHEN PURCHASING NEW HEATING AND COOKING EQUIPMENT, SELECT FACTORY BUILT
PRODUCTS APPROVED BY AN INDEPENDENT TESTING LABORATORY. DO NOT ACCEPT DAMAGED
EQUIPMENT. HIRE A QUALIFIED TECHNICIAN (USUALLY EMPLOYED BY THE LOCAL OIL
OR GAS COMPANY) TO INSTALL THE EQUIPMENT. ASK ABOUT AND INSIST THAT THE TECHNICIAN
FOLLOW APPLICABLE FIRE SAFETY AND LOCAL BUILDING CODES.
- IF YOU PURCHASE AN EXISTING HOME HAVE A QUALIFIED TECHNICIAN EVALUATE
THE INTEGRITY OF THE HEATING AND COOKING SYSTEMS, AS WELL AS THE SEALED SPACES
BETWEEN THE GARAGE AND HOUSE.
- WHEN CAMPING, REMEMBER TO USE BATTERY POWERED HEATERS AND FLASHLIGHTS
IN TENTS, TRAILERS AND MOTOR HOMES. USING FOSSIL FUELS INSIDE THESE STRUCTURES
IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. NAPA 501, STANDARD ON RECREATIONAL VEHICLES, REQUIRES
THE INSTALLATION OF A CO DETECTOR IN RECREATIONAL VEHICLES.
What are CO detectors?
Household carbon monoxide detectors measure how much CO has accumulated. Currently,
CO detectors sound an alarm when the concentration of CO in the air corresponds
to 10% carboxyhemoglobin level in the blood. Since 10% COHb is at the very
low end of CO poisoning, the alarm may sound before people feel particularly
What causes CO detector nuisance alarms?
Pollution and atmospheric conditions in some areas cause low levels of CO
to be present for long periods of time. In fact, these "background"
conditions may increase the COHb level to over 10%, causing CO detectors to
alarm even though conditions inside the home are not truly hazardous. Treat
all CO detector alarms as real, until it has been verified that there is no
threat from equipment inside the dwelling.
If you buy CO detectors:
- Select detector(s) listed by a qualified, independent testing laboratory.
- Follow manufacturer's recommendations for placement in your home.
- Test CO detectors at least once a month, following the manufacturer's instructions.
- Replace CO detectors according to the manufacturer's instructions, usually
about every two years.
- Battery powered CO detectors may have unique battery packs designed to last
approximately two years, compared to batteries use in smoke detectors, which
require yearly replacement.
What to do if your CO detector alarms:
If anyone shows signs of CO poisoning: Have everyone leave the building right
away. Leave doors open as you go. Use a neighbor's telephone to report the
CO alarm to the fire department.
Carbon monoxide detectors, are not substitutes for smoke detectors. Smoke
detectors react to fire by products, before CO detectors would alarm. Smoke
detectors give earlier warning of a fire, providing more time to escape.
To guard against smoke and fire, be sure that your home has working smoke
detectors on every level and just outside of all sleeping areas.
Know the difference between the sound of the smoke detectors and the sound
of the carbon monoxide detector.
Have a home evacuation plan for any home emergency and practice the plan with
all members of the household.
If you would like more information about carbon monoxide detectors please
phone 303-651-8432, during business hours.
*N. Cobb an d R.A. Etzel, "Unintentional carbon monoxide related deaths
in the United States, 1979 through 1988," Journal of the American Medical
Association, Volume 266, #5, 1991, pp. 659-693, as reported in National Safety
Council's Accent Facts.