Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Owens wants to keep your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that poisons more than 20,000 people each year; killing more than 500. Everyone is at risk for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Infants, the elderly, people with chronic heart disease or breathing problems are more likely to get sick from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide detectors are a smart idea, and are also required by law.

A picture of a carbon monoxide detector

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

CO symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are dull headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, blurred vision, chest pain, and confusion.

People who are sleeping or intoxicated are especially susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning. They may have irreversible brain damage or even be killed before they exhibit symptoms or anyone realizes there is a problem.

Prevention Tips

  • Make sure your gas appliances such as your water heater, furnace and stove are vented properly.
  • Never patch a vent pipe with tape.
  • Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances inspected and maintained by a qualified technician.
  • Never use a gas range or oven for heating, even if the power goes out.
  • Never warm-up your car or truck inside an attached garage, even with the garage door open.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors or in your fireplace.
  • Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors.
  • Never use a portable gas camp stove indoors.
  • Never use a generator inside your home, basement, or garage.
  • Only purchase gas burning equipment or appliances that have the seal of a national testing agency, such as Underwriters’ Laboratories.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors are required by Law

Minn. Stat. § 299F.50 to .51 – Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Requires that every single family dwelling and every dwelling unit in a multifamily dwelling must have an approved and operational carbon monoxide alarm installed within ten feet of each room lawfully used for sleeping purposes.

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 101.647 – One- and 2-Family Dwelling Code

Requires the owner of a 1 or 2 family dwelling (not including hotels) install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor and in the basement of the dwelling, if the dwelling has an attached garage, fireplace, or a fuel-burning appliance.

What to look for when purchasing a CO detector

The most important specification to look for when purchasing a CO detector is the minimum level of CO at which an alarm will sound.

The typical carbon monoxide detector purchased at your local hardware store doesn’t alarm until 70-77 parts per million — when it may already be TOO LATE!

  • The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) guidelines allow only 9 parts per million (PPM) for 8 hours of continuous exposure in a living space.
  • The World Health Organization has reported that harmful effects can start with as little as 15-30 PPM.
  • CO exposure at 30 ppm has been shown to harm heart patients, pregnant women, and children.
  • OSHA guidelines allow only 50 PPM as the maximum concentration for 8 hours of continuous exposure for healthy adults in a work environment

We believe every home should have low-level carbon monoxide detectors that will alarm at 15 ppm.

Also, check the date of manufacture; CO detectors lose their sensitivity over time. (Expect to replace your CO detector every five years or so.)