Carbon Monoxide And Your Home
– With an average life expectancy of a carbon monoxide alarm ranging between 5 to 7 years, it’s important to understand the reasons on why they are needed in the home as well as what is required by law. While each state has separate requirements for these alarms, Massachusetts has required them in residences since 2006.
What Are The Dangers Of Carbon Monoxide?
Known as the invisible killer, carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that has no visible color, odor or taste. When exposed to carbon monoxide by breathing it in, one can feel dizzy, nauseous, fatigued or have a headache. Commonly mistaken as flu symptoms, this type of poisoning can go undetected. The effects of exposure to this gas are that you can find it difficult to think clearly and it slowly suffocates you by removing oxygen in the blood stream. This gas is more common than you think. As an example, in the first quarter of 2013 Massachusetts fire departments responded to nearly 20,000 incidents. Of this large number, 5,000 cases of this poisoning were confirmed. The largest number of reported carbon monoxide incidents occur between the cooler months of November through February since this is primarily when homes need to be heated.
How Does Carbon Monoxide Get Into The Home?
The leading source of these incidents comes from heating equipment. But it can also be from a fireplace, barbecue grills, gas stoves or dryers, hot water heaters and gasoline powered items running in the garage (generator, car, lawn mower, snow blower, etc.).
The average level of this gas in a home without a gas stove will vary from 0.5 to 5 parts per million (ppm). Homes that have gas stoves show levels between 5 to 15 ppm on average and a poorly adjusted stove may show levels of 30 ppm or higher.
The passing of Nicole’s Law in Massachusetts was made to protect against this danger (ultimately to protect against carbon monoxide related injuries and deaths). Nicole’s Law requires that a carbon monoxide alarm is installed on each level of a home, which also includes habitable portions of the attic or basement. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed within 10 feet of bedroom doors. Under the law, landlords are also required to both install and maintain these alarms in every residence that has a source of this gas.
What To Look For When Purchasing A Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Make sure to look for the approval label of an independent testing company when purchasing a carbon monoxide alarm. The Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) is commonly found on many labels. The following are various types of these alarms:
• Low voltage system
• Battery operated with battery monitoring
• Plug-in with a battery back-up systems
• Qualified combination (carbon monoxide and smoke alarm)
To mitigate exposure to this gas, you should ensure that all gas appliances are properly adjusted. If you have a gas stove, then installation and use of an exhaust fan that is vented to the outdoors is recommended. When using a fireplace, the flue should be left in the open position. Vehicles and other gas powered motors that are running within a garage or other space should have proper ventilation. It’s also important that a home have a correctly sized wood stove that is certified to meet EPA emission standards. Central heating systems should be inspected annually by a professional to ensure there are no leaks.
Because this gas is impossible to see, taste or smell, many people don’t detect the toxic fumes and, thus, there are many deaths across the United States each and every year from this poisoning in the home. Make sure you and your family are not at risk for exposure to this potentially deadly gas.
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