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How To Respond If Your CO Detector Goes Off

Know How To Keep Your Loved Ones Safe

co safety north carolina

This time of year is when people are at the greatest risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.

We’re indoors more of the day, and our home’s furnace or boiler is running, and possibly supplemental heating like space heaters as well.

NEVER use your gas range for supplemental heating or use gas equipment like grills or portable generators indoors or in enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces like garages, sunporches, and carports. These can quickly cause a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide (CO) in your home.

Here is some information about carbon monoxide, and what you should do if your CO detector goes off.

What is carbon monoxide and why is it dangerous?

Carbon monoxide is often called a “silent killer,” because it is odorless and colorless.

CO replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells. As it builds up, CO starves vital organs like your brain, heart, and lungs of oxygen. This oxygen deprivation can cause serious, potentially permanent, injury or death.

Many CO poisonings happen at night when people are sleeping. In these situations, people can be in danger before they feel any symptoms.

Those symptoms are usually described as flu-like, with the most common symptoms being:

While everyone is vulnerable to CO poisoning, infants, children, the elderly and people with anemia, respiratory problems, or chronic heart disease are especially vulnerable.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that about 50,000 people end up in the emergency room with carbon monoxide poisoning each year, with 4,000 of them having to be hospitalized. About 430 people a year are killed by CO poisoning.

CO Detectors Are Essential

You need to have carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home, including the basement, and outside all sleeping areas.

Change the batteries in your CO detectors when you change the batteries on your smoke detector, which you should be doing each time you change your clocks to or from Daylight Savings Time.

CO detectors needs to be replaced every five years.

Homes that use propane also need a propane leak detector. Sometimes, the rotten-egg odor of propane may not be detected because of something like rust inside your propane tank, or you have a cold or allergies, and your sense of smell isn’t working well.

Propane leak detectors are easy to install, affordable, and can be found at local hardware or home improvement stores or online.

If your CO detector has gone off, you only have to do three things:

If no carbon monoxide buildup is found, the CO detector may have malfunctioned. It needs to be retested if that occurs.
Contact us if you have any questions about propane safety. We’re happy to help!