Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless and highly poisonous gas that can cause serious symptoms or even death when inhaled, and a carbon monoxide alarm is a device no home should be without.
Some of the most common household appliances produce carbon monoxide gas, including your gas or propane powered furnace and water heater, along with all other fuel-burning appliances. If everything works the way it should, the carbon monoxide gas is vented outside where it can dissipate harmlessly. But in the event that something goes wrong, a carbon monoxide alarm is a true life saver.
The key benefit of a carbon monoxide alarm is that it goes off before the gas can build to dangerous levels, allowing everyone to get out of the house quickly and without danger. Carbon monoxide inhalation can lead to death in severe cases, but more common symptoms include headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, confusion and blurred vision. A carbon monoxide alarm should sound before any of these symptoms appear.
Many homeowners place carbon monoxide alarms at opposite ends of the house to ensure that all members of the household can hear the alarm clearly when it goes off. It’s also a good idea to install an alarm in whatever room you keep your furnace and water heater.
In addition to carbon monoxide alarms that are wired into your home’s electrical system, many models come with a battery-powered backup alarm. Certain all-in-one models include a carbon monoxide and smoke detector in the same unit.
Be sure to test your alarm and check or replace the batteries twice a year (to help you remember, test the batteries in spring and fall when you change your clocks).
If the carbon monoxide alarm in your home sounds, get everyone out of the house quickly and call 9-1-1 or your local fire department.