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cerf_tip_of_the_month_smallBe a Life Saver—Get a CO Detector

April 22, 2016 | Tip of the Month

As temperatures drop during the approaching months of winter, the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning from heating sources increases. That makes it a good time to install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in your home and studio, and if you already have them, now is the time to make sure they are operating properly.

Carbon monoxide, a by-product of combustion, is colorless and odorless, and can accumulate in a home or studio if a heater, woodstove, furnace, water heater or other source of combustion is improperly vented, or if some component of the ventilation system is cracked, plugged, or damaged. CO is undetectable, except by an electronic sensor, and has earned the title of the “silent killer.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that carbon monoxide poisoning is highest in the colder months due to increased use of heating sources, including inappropriate sources used indoors during power outages.

Carbon monoxide detectors are inexpensive and available at any hardware store or big box home center. They can be battery powered or plug into an electrical outlet. Concentrations of CO that are not immediately life-threatening can still damage your health over time, so it’s a good idea to locate CO detectors in your work areas as well as in sleeping areas in your home.

  • If you have CO detectors, take this opportunity to check the batteries and the age of the detectors. Early detectors had a lifespan of about two years while newer ones are good for up to seven years.
  • If you don’t have CO detectors, get them! Carbon monoxide is serious business, and these detectors can save your life.
  • The Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) has extensive information on carbon monoxide, its effects on human health, CO poisoning prevention, and installing and using CO detectors.
  • Learn more about avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning during winter storms and extreme cold at FEMA’s website.
  • Check out the Studio Protector’s winter storm power outage and other disaster-specific planning resources to help you be fully disaster ready!
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