Carbon Monoxide Detector Guidelines for 2024

What is Carbon Monoxide ?

Often called the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is created when fuels burn incompletely (fuels like natural gas, gasoline, wood or coal). Heating and cooking equipment in the home can also be sources of carbon monoxide. In 2023, there was an increase in CO poisoning deaths.

What’s the difference between CO and CO₂ ?

Carbon dioxide is mostly harmless, while carbon monoxide can be fatal. Carbon Dioxide (CO₂) comes from our breath (humans and animals breathe it out) and the burning of fossil fuels. The chemical makeup of the two gasses is slightly different, but the difference in their effects is extreme.

How Can I Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure?

Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when carbon monoxide builds up in your bloodstream. When too much carbon monoxide is in the air, your body replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with carbon monoxide. This can lead to serious tissue damage, or even death. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced by burning gasoline, wood, propane, charcoal or other fuel. Improperly ventilated appliances and engines, particularly in a tightly sealed or enclosed space, may allow carbon monoxide to accumulate to dangerous levels. If you think you or someone you’re with may have carbon monoxide poisoning, get into fresh air and seek emergency medical care.

Where Should I Install Carbon Monoxide Alarms?

Detectors should be installed on every level of a home and outside sleeping areas. Install carbon monoxide alarms at least 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances and make sure nothing is covering or obstructing the unit. Each detector should cover about 1500 sq ft of space, for larger homes install many to cover areas. Install also in basements that contain gas lines. Install in any bedroom with a fireplace.

What Are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Exposure?

CO enters the body through breathing. CO poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning and other illnesses. Some symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, light headedness or headaches. High levels of CO can be fatal, causing death within minutes.

Our Experience With Carbon Monoxide Detectors

We at RetrofitLA have tested a few CO detectors, and have generally found most of them to be relatively slow acting, when exposed to CO in a controlled environment, quite unlike smoke detectors. Though not under lab conditions, all alarms tested took a while to trigger. That said, when purchasing CO detectors, purchase high quality detectors and more than the minimum, and always have one in your sleeping area, especially if you have a gas fireplace. Below is our affordable choice for plug in CO detector, the Kidde AC Plug-In model KN-COP-DP2.

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