Are carbon monoxide (CO) alarms installed and maintained in your home? If not, then you and everyone in your household could be at risk of CO poisoning. Carbon monoxide alarms inside your home provide an early warning of the presence of deadly carbon monoxide gas.
According to the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), CO alarms should be installed and maintained in a central location outside each separate sleeping area, on every level of the home, and in other locations, as required by laws, codes, or standards. Install CO alarms that meet the current safety standards. CPSC recommends that consumers look for UL or CSA listings on the packaging. Follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one interconnected CO alarm sounds, they all sound.
“Some homes in Newton may not have functioning carbon monoxide alarms,” says Jarrod Wellik, Chief of the Newton Fire Department. “We want all residents to understand the requirements for CO alarms.”
Chief Wellik says CO alarms can mean the difference between life and death. According to NFPA, fire department responses to non-fire CO incidents have increased over the past decade. Between 2006 and 2010, there was an average of 72,000 fire department responses due to carbon monoxide (without fire) per year. The vast majority, 94 percent, occur in homes. CDC reports that from 1999 to 2010, an average of 430 people were killed by unintentional non-fire related CO poisoning per year from consumer combustion appliances and motor vehicles.
“Often called the invisible killer, CO is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels burn incompletely,” says Chief Wellik. “In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of CO. Also, anything that has an engine, such as vehicles running in an attached garage, or portable generators running inside a home, shed, attached garage or too close to a home also can produce dangerous levels of CO. Burning charcoal in fireplaces or barbeque grills inside a home or in semi-enclosed areas can also result in lethal carbon monoxide levels.”
Newton Fire Department, NFPA, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) offer the following tips for making sure the CO alarms in your home are maintained and working properly:
- Install and maintain CO alarms in a central location outside each separate sleeping area, on every level of the home, and in other locations, as required by laws, codes, or standards.
- If you have combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarms, follow the directions for smoke alarm installation.
- Test CO alarms once a month, and replace them if they fail to respond correctly when tested.
- Replace the CO alarm according to manufacturer’s instructions or when the end-of-life signal sounds.
- Know the difference between the sound of the CO alarm and the smoke alarm, and each alarm’s low-battery signals. If the audible low-battery signal sounds, replace the batteries, or replace the device.
- CO alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms, and vice versa. Know the difference.
Newton residents with questions and/or concerns about CO alarm requirements may contact the Newton Fire Department at 641-792-3347.