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Jan Doherty

Spokane Fire Department reminds everyone to check their CO detectors

Jan Doherty, Public Education Officer, No Phone Number Available

Monday, January 12, 2015 at 10:15 a.m.

Spokane Fire Department reminds everyone to check their CO detectors

Carbon monoxide (CO) is often referred to as “the silent killer” because the poisonous gas can't be seen, tasted or smelled. Since humans cannot detect CO exposure, it is important that each household be protected by a CO-sensing device, or carbon monoxide detector.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen any time of the year. However, during the winter months there is an increase in CO incidents that are caused by problems with heating sources such as oil or natural gas furnaces, fireplaces, and woodstoves. When chimneys have not been inspected on a regular basis, blockages such as bird nests can cause a CO buildup inside a home.

Carbon monoxide is formed in a typical household when fossil-fuel burning devices such as the furnace, gas stove, or water heater malfunction. Attached garages can also become a source of deadly CO from car exhaust.

If you rent your home, since January 1, 2013, your landlord has had the legal responsibility to make sure there is a working CO detector on each level of the residence and outside the sleeping areas. If you are a homeowner, you are encouraged to protect your family by installing at least one CO detector on each level of the home.

  • When purchasing a CO detector, check on the type of batteries that are required. Most CO detectors have a five to seven year lifespan. Some are now on the market that use long-life lithium batteries and can be expected to last 10 years.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for placement and maintenance.
  • Test CO alarms each month, just as you do for your smoke alarms.
  • Know the sounds that the CO alarm makes when it detects a level of CO or when it signals a problem with the battery.

Dual-sensor, combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are available for purchase, however Spokane Fire Department recommends separate detectors for most households. CO detectors that have a small electronic screen on front showing the parts of CO per million parts of air can help you determine whether there is a large or small amount of CO when the alarm sounds.

Whenever your CO detector sounds an alarm, get all residents outside and call 9-1-1. If your CO detector alarms and the electronic screen shows a very small amount of CO, get everyone outside and call your local power company instead.

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