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Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are possible sources of Carbon Monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of Carbon Monoxide.

Effects of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Exposure
CO replaces oxygen in the bloodstream, which leads to suffocation.

  • Mild Exposure - Mild effects include symptoms similar to flu such as headache, nausea and vomiting.

  • Medium Exposure - More severe symptoms include difficulty breathing, severe headache, drowsiness, confusion and an increased heart rate.

  • Extreme Exposure - Extreme symptoms can cause unconsciousness, convulsions, cardio respiratory failure, and death

The carbon monoxide alarm shall be located in each level of a dwelling unit including finished basements and cellars but not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics. (Check manufacturer's requirements for installation instructions.) The types of carbon monoxide detectors allowed are:

  • Battery operated

  • Plug in with battery back up

  • Hard wired with battery back up

  • Low voltage or wireless

  • Combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms/detectors.(Note that these are required to be photoelectric smoke detectors if located within 20 ft. of a kitchen or bathroom.)

CO Alarms
Purchase only alarms listed by a qualified independent testing laboratory meeting the requirements of IAS/CAS 6.19 or UL 2034. Install, test, and maintain CO alarms as specified by the manufacturer's instructions.

Replace the battery per the manufacturer's instructions. 

Alternative Compliance Option
Large buildings with multiple dwelling units that contain minimal or no sources of CO inside the individual units are required to install hard wired detectors. These buildings may provide protection in the following areas of the structure: 1) Areas or rooms containing centralized fossil fuel burning equipment such as boiler rooms, hot water heaters, central laundry areas and all adjacent spaces. 2) Adjacent spaces of enclosed parking.

Safety Checklist
CO alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms. Make sure the dwelling has working smoke alarms that are located in accordance with the minimum required locations. It is recommended that working smoke detectors be located on every level and directly inside all sleeping rooms.

Make sure CO and Smoke alarms are tested regularly. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and CO alarms. Have an escape plan for emergencies and practice the plan with all members of the dwelling (household) regularly, at least twice a year.

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