Health Issues

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Proper installation and use

Wherever you have fuel being burned, you have carbon monoxide being produced as a byproduct. Carbon monoxide (or CO) is a highly toxic gas produced by many common household appliances, including water heaters, ovens and oil furnaces. Carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of poison-related deaths in America today, killing approximately 500 people a year, so it's important to keep appliances in good working order. Just as it's essential to install smoke alarms in your home to protect against a fire, it's important to install a carbon monoxide monitor in your home to detect unsafe levels early and protect your family from any potential harm.

When choosing your carbon monoxide detector, make sure you select one that is UL-certified, bearing the UL mark. UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories Inc., which is a non-profit government organization that tests thousands of products every day to be sure they work the way they are intended and are hazard-free. The UL mark is your assurance that your detector will sense elevated levels of CO in your home and sound an alarm to alert your family.

Installing Your Carbon Monoxide Detector

  1. Carefully read the instructions that came with the device. Gather any tools you may need to help install it, including a screwdriver, a hand-held drill, screws and a measuring tape.
  2. Select the location of your new carbon monoxide monitor. It's generally a good idea to install CO monitors near the smoke detectors in your home (this will allow you to check and change their batteries at the same time). If you are only installing one device, it should be installed near your sleeping area where it can wake you if it detects elevated CO levels. Carbon monoxide has roughly the same weight as air, but can rise with heat from CO-producing appliances like furnaces, so it is recommended you install the detector on or near the ceiling. Do not install directly above or beside fuel burning appliances or in rooms like bathrooms that can be humid.
  3. Measure the distance between the holes on the carbon monoxide sensor's mounting bracket and mark this same distance on the location you have chosen.
  4. Drill small holes where marked in the previous step and use screws to attach the mounting bracket. Then make sure the device contains fresh batteries and mount it into the bracket itself.
  5. Make sure you do regular checks and maintenance as per the device's instructions, and keep the owner's manual on hand. Push the test button on a regular basis to be sure the carbon monoxide alarm is functioning properly and loudly enough. If it is faint or silent, change the batteries immediately. Ideally, batteries should be changed twice a year.
  6. If your home contains many rooms or levels, consider purchasing additional detectors and placing one on each level of your home and in each bedroom.
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