How to Choose and Use a Carbon Monoxide Detector

When it comes to an odorless, invisible, deadly gas like carbon monoxide, a carbon monoxide detector is your most important line of defense. All homes should have at least one carbon monoxide detector, and it’s up to you to make sure they operate properly. Carbon monoxide is impossible to detect without a detector.

Here are the six things worth knowing about carbon monoxide detectors.

1. Types of Carbon Dioxide Monitors. Carbon monoxide detectors monitor CO levels in different ways. Some monitor through a chemical reaction when high carbon monoxide levels cause a color change in the detector. Others monitor through an electrochemical reaction in which high carbon monoxide levels create an electrical current that triggers the alarm.

2.  Shelf Life. Nothing lasts forever. While smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years, your  carbon monoxide detector should be replaced more frequently – about every 5 to 7 years depending on  the type. It’s also a good idea to write the installation date on the back so you don’t forget when it was installed.

3.  Replace batteries every six months. Because your carbon monoxide detector is always working, biannual battery changes are a must. Coordinate changing your batteries during Daylight Saving Time gives you an easy reminder when it's time to make the switch.

4. May be required by law. In some states, it’s mandatory to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. This is just one more reason to invest in this essential tool.

5.  Needs to be near where you sleep. Like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors are most essential when you are sleeping. That’s why a carbon monoxide detector should be placed within 15 feet of any occupied bedroom. A hallway is a great location because it allows one detector to service multiple bedrooms. If your home has multiple levels, one detector for every floor is recommended.

6.  Should be taken seriously. If your carbon monoxide detector goes off, your first step should be to gather anyone else and your pets and exit immediately. This is especially true if you are feeling the early side effects of CO poisoning, such as headache or nausea. Carbon monoxide is most dangerous when you are in an enclosed, confined space, so get outside and find fresh air. From there, call for help.

Forgot your phone? Then knock on your neighbor’s door and ask to use their phone. Whatever you do, don’t go back inside your home until you receive clearance from emergency responders.

Protecting your home from dangers like carbon monoxide and fires is important. And so is the added protection and peace of mind that homeowners insurance and renters insurance can provide. Talk to an insurance professional like an Erie Insurance Agent to learn more and get a free quote.


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