A carbon monoxide detector/alarm can provide added protection, however they are not substitutes for proper use and upkeep of appliances that can produce CO.
Install CO detectors according to the manufacturers instructions.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that every home have at least one carbon monoxide detector for each floor of the home.
The Underwriters' Laboratories recommends placing carbon monoxide detectors within hearing range of each sleeping area. Place them near, but not directly above, combustion appliances such as furnaces and water heaters, near fire places or in the garage.
Do not place detectors:
Detectors may be placed near the floor or near the ceiling since carbon monoxide has nearly the same density as air.
Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors protect against different hazards, therefore one is a not substitute for the other.
Types of detectors
Both 110-volt AC (plug-in and hardwired) and battery powered detectors are available. The detectors sound an 85-decibel alarm in the presence of certain concentrations of carbon monoxide over a preset period.
Consumer Products Safety Commission Document #466
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of solid, liquid, and gaseous fuels.
Appliances fueled with natural gas, liquified petroleum (LP gas), oil, kerosene, coal, or wood may produce CO. Burning charcoal produces CO. Running cars produce CO.
Every year, more than 200 people in the United States die from CO produced by fuel-burning appliances (furnaces, ranges, water heaters, room heaters).
Others die from CO produced while burning charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent. Still others die from CO produced by cars left running in attached garages. Several thousand people go to hospital emergency rooms for treatment for CO poisoning.
Symptoms of CO poisoning
The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include:
Many people with CO poisoning mistake their symptoms for the flu or are misdiagnosed by physicians, which sometimes results in tragic deaths.
What should you do to prevent CO?
Make sure appliances are installed according to manufacturer's instructions and local building codes. Most appliances should be installed by professionals.
Have the heating system (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually. The inspector should also check chimneys and flues for blockages, corrosion, partial and complete disconnections, and loose connections.
Install a CO detector/alarm that meets the requirements of the current UL standard 2034 or the requirements of the IAS 6-96 standard.
A carbon monoxide detector/alarm can provide added protection, but is no substitute for proper use and upkeep of appliances that can produce CO.
What CO level is dangerous to your health?
The health effects of CO depend on the level of CO and length of exposure, as well as each individual's health condition. The concentration of CO is measured in parts per million (ppm).
Health effects from exposure to CO levels of approximately 1 to 70 ppm are uncertain, but most people will not experience any symptoms. Some heart patients might experience an increase in chest pain.
As CO levels increase and remain above 70 ppm, symptoms may become more noticeable (headache, fatigue, nausea). As CO levels increase above 150 to 200 ppm, disorientation, unconsciousness, and death are possible.
What should you do if you are experiencing symptoms of CO?
If you think you are experiencing any of the symptoms of CO poisoning, get fresh air immediately. Open windows and doors for more ventilation, turn off any combustion appliances, and leave the house.
Call your fire department (or 911) and report your symptoms. You could lose consciousness and die if you do nothing.
It is also important to contact a doctor immediately for a proper diagnosis. Tell your doctor that you suspect CO poisoning is causing your problems.
Prompt medical attention is important if you are experiencing any symptoms of CO poisoning when you are operating fuel-burning appliances.
Before turning your fuel-burning appliances back on, make sure a qualified serviceperson checks them for malfunction.
What has changed in CO detectors/alarms recently?
CO detectors/alarms always have been and still are designed to alarm before potentially life-threatening levels of CO are reached.
The UL standard 2034 (1998 revision) has stricter requirements that the detector/alarm must meet before it can sound. As a result, the possibility of nuisance alarms is decreased.
What should you do when the CO detector/alarm sounds?
Never ignore an alarming CO detector/alarm. If the detector/alarm sounds:
How should a consumer test a CO detector/alarm to make sure it is working?
Consumers should follow the manufacturer's instructions. Using a test button, some detectors/alarms test whether the circuitry as well as the sensor which senses CO is working, while the test button on other detectors only tests whether the circuitry is working.
For those units which test the circuitry only, some manufacturers sell separate test kits to help the consumer test the CO sensor inside the alarm.
What is the role of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in preventing CO?
CPSC worked closely with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to help develop the safety standard (UL 2034) for CO detectors/alarms. CPSC helps promote carbon monoxide safety awareness to raise awareness of CO hazards and the need for regular maintenance of fuel-burning appliances.
CPSC recommends that every home have a CO detector/alarm that meets the requirements of the most recent UL standard 2034 or the IAS 6-96 standard in the hallway near every separate sleeping area.
CPSC also works with industry to develop voluntary and mandatory standards for fuel-burning appliances.
Do some cities require that CO detectors/alarms be installed?
On September 15, 1993, Chicago, IL became one of the first cities in the nation to adopt an ordinance requiring, effective October 1, 1994, the installation of CO detectors/alarms in all new single-family homes and in existing single-family residences that have new oil or gas furnaces.
Several other cities also require CO detectors/alarms in apartment buildings and single-family dwellings.
Should CO detectors/alarms be used in motor homes and other recreational vehicles?
CO detectors/alarms are available for boats and recreational vehicles and should be used. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association requires CO detectors/alarms in motor homes and in towable recreational vehicles that have a generator or are prepped for a generator.
Mailing Address: US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, DC 20207-0001Location: US Consumer Product Safety Commission, 4330 East-West Hwy., Bethesda, MD 20814-4408
Consumer Hotline -- Call, toll free, to obtain product safety information, report unsafe products, and obtain other agency information: 1.800.638.2772
Hotline -- TTY for the Hearing Impaired: 1.800.638.8270
Carbon monoxide, chemical compound of carbon and oxygen with the formula, CO, is a colorless, odorless gas, about 3 percent lighter than air. It is poisonous to all warm-blooded animals and to many other forms of life. When inhaled CO combines with hemoglobin in the blood, preventing absorption of oxygen and resulting in asphyxiation.
Carbon monoxide is formed whenever carbon or substances containing carbon are burned with an insufficient air supply. Even when the amount of air is theoretically sufficient, the reaction is not always complete, so that the combustion gases contain some free oxygen and some carbon monoxide.
An incomplete reaction is especially probable when it takes place quickly, as in an automobile engine. For this reason, automobile-exhaust gases contain harmful quantities of carbon monoxide, sometimes several percent, although antipollution devices are intended to keep the level below 1 percent.
As little as 1/1000 of 1 percent of carbon monoxide in air may produce symptoms of poisoning, and as little as 1/5 of 1 percent may prove fatal in less than 30 minutes.
Carbon monoxide is a major ingredient of the air pollution in urban areas. Because it is odorless, carbon monoxide is an insidious poison.
It produces only mild symptoms of headache, nausea, or fatigue, followed by unconsciousness. An automobile engine running in a closed garage can make the air noxious within a few minutes; a leaking furnace flue may fill a house with unsuspected poison.
Fuel gas, which may contain as much as 50 percent carbon monoxide, often has small quantities of unpleasant-smelling sulfur compounds purposely added to make leaks noticeable.
Carbon monoxide is an important industrial fuel because it contains more than two-thirds of the heating value of the carbon from which it was formed.
It is a constituent of water gas, producer gas, blast furnace gas, and coal gas.In smelting, iron ore carbon monoxide formed from coke used in the process acts as a reducing agent, that is, it removes oxygen from the ore.
Carbon monoxide combines actively with chlorine to form carbonyl chloride, or phosgene, and it combines with hydrogen, when heated in the presence of a catalyst, to form methyl alcohol.
The direct combination of carbon monoxide with certain metals, forming gaseous compounds, is used in refining those metals, particularly nickel.
Carbon monoxide melts at -205° C (-337° F) and boils at -191.5° C (-312.7°F).
From: "Carbon Monoxide," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2000 http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. © 1993-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
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