North Carolina requires all private residences to have carbon monoxide detectors. Even without it being a law, you need to take carbon monoxide safety seriously in your home. More than 20,000 people in the U.S. a year need medical care due to CO poisoning. It’s the highest cause of poisoning deaths in the U.S. More than 400 people a year die from CO poisoning. Where should you put carbon monoxide detectors in your home?
CO is impossible to detect without a detector as it has no smell, color, or taste. Knowing more about CO detectors, including how and where to install them, will help them be more effective, which could save you and your family in an emergency.
How to Put Up Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide detectors are the primary and most effective way to be safe from CO gas. This is true, though, only if they are installed right and in the right places. You can purchase carbon monoxide detectors from any hardware store, or many grocery or big box stores. They are simple to install on your own.
Detectors need to be, at least, on every level of a house. This includes a basement so you have everywhere in the structure covered. There are different types of CO detectors. This changes how they need to be installed and where you can place them.
Hard-wired CO detectors are incorporated into your home’s existing electrical wiring system, functioning like most smoke alarms. One of the major advantages of hard-wired detectors is they are connected to every other detector, so when one alarm goes off, they all sound. The disadvantage is installment can be difficult so you might want to get them installed by a professional.
Battery-powered CO detectors are easy to set up. They can also be put on a ledge or moved easily. There are CO detectors that can connect to a smart home system. One negative is batteries need to be replaced or else a dead battery means the detector is down. You should check the batteries and test the alarms every six months.
Some CO detectors plug into an electric outlet. This type is very easy to install. There are a couple of drawbacks. It can restrict where you can put detectors. These devices need battery back-up capability or else a power outage means your detectors are out. So, this type still needs a battery and regular battery checks and replacements.
Where to Put CO Detectors
The minimum places in a residence that need carbon monoxide detectors are outside every bedroom or place someone sleeps and at least one on every level of the building. You must have one anywhere else required by laws or codes. These are just the advised minimums. It’s very important to have CO detectors near bedrooms. If an alarm sounds in the middle of the night, it needs to be loud enough to wake everyone up. CO detectors need to be just as close, and can basically go in the same areas, as smoke detectors in a house.
There are more recommended places. Think of spots where carbon monoxide gas is more likely to get into a home.
- Near a garage – If a garage is attached to the house, and you ever put vehicles in the garage, a running engine puts CO in the air. The confined space of a garage is very dangerous in a short period of time with CO exhaust. The gas can begin entering the rest of the house. You should place a CO detector close to the garage in the house.
- Near appliances or units which emit CO – Furnaces and water heaters, as a couple common examples, put out carbon monoxide. In case there’s a situation where they are putting out carbon monoxide, you should have CO detectors from 5-20 feet of these units. You don’t want to put a detector too close as you’ll get false alarms too often.
- Don’t put detectors too close to open windows or frequently used doors. Open air can lead to detectors not detecting CO effectively enough.
Dangers from Carbon Monoxide
CO gas is nearly impossible for people to detect without a detector. The gas is colorless and odorless. CO gas is more dangerous the more concentrated it is, such as in enclosed rooms or spaces of a garage or house. And, most homes have multiple devices or systems which produce and emit CO gas. Gas stoves, furnaces, space heaters, appliances with venting that break down or malfunction, vehicle exhaust, and generators are some examples.
High CO levels can cause symptoms such as flu-like feelings, nausea, headache, light-headedness, dizziness, weakness, and sudden fatigue. If the gas level gets worse and/or people remain in the affected area, symptoms can be confusion, high heart rate, unconsciousness, and death.
With some of these symptoms, someone’s first thought might not be about carbon monoxide. A working detector and an alarm may help a situation before symptoms become too bad and while someone can still get out of the area and get help.
What to Do When There’s CO Gas
What should you do, and not do, when a CO detector sounds in your home? It will help you and your family to know the steps to take before the moment there’s an emergency.
A high level of CO gas can harm people in a matter of seconds or minutes. Prolonged exposure will make symptoms a great deal worse.
If a CO alarm goes off and no one is feeling any bad signs or symptoms, here are steps to take to stop the problem before it gets worse.
- Open windows and doors to let fresh air come into the house. The airflow should clear the CO gas.
- Turn off all the potential sources of the CO, even if you don’t think those are the cause at the moment.
- Call first responders, most specifically the fire department, to check the home for safety and anything you might not check or know yourself.
If a CO alarm goes off and someone is experiencing illness or symptoms, you should immediately be safe before taking any other actions.
- Immediately evacuate everyone and all pets, if possible, outside the house and into the fresh air.
- Once everyone is outside and safe, call 911.
- Don’t go back into the building until first responders have come, inspected it, and said it’s safe to reenter.
At South End Heating and Air, we specialize in HVAC and furnace repair, call us for a free consult. We’ll evaluate your system and help make recommendations for optimum value. After all, we want to keep you cool all summer long and warm in the winter. Just schedule a visit with one of our technicians to talk about how we can help with your heating needs. Would you like to learn more options our techs can help you with? Give us a call 704-684-5339.