Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Gas Explosions - What You Need to Know

With another Minnesota winter on the horizon, our heating, lighting, cooking, and holiday activities increase dramatically — and with them, the risk of residential fires and potential gas explosion hazards.

Now is the time to ensure your smoke detectors and explosive gas alarms (i.e. carbon monoxide detectors) are functioning properly. More information can be found on the gas explosion fact sheet here.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, invisible, poison gas. It is produced when carbon-containing materials, like wood, coal, oil, and natural gas, burn incompletely.

Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

When Carbon Monoxide (CO) enters the lungs, it quickly latches onto red blood cells. CO can kill or cause long-lasting health problems and it is especially dangerous for children, pregnant women, people with heart disease, and the elderly. Early signs of CO exposure are headache, sleepiness, nausea, and dizziness. If you suddenly feel these symptoms, open windows or go outside. If fresh air brings relief, have your home's heating system inspected. CO poisoning is a real threat, one that you cannot see, smell, or taste, but that you can prevent.

What if your Carbon Monoxide alarm sounds?

If a carbon monoxide alarm sounds, verify that the occupants are not showing signs of CO poisoning. If anyone in the home has symptoms of CO poisoning, call 911 immediately. If no one has symptoms of CO poisoning, open windows or doors to allow fresh air to enter and contact the fire department or your utility company as soon as possible. 

Installing a Carbon Monoxide Detector

At a minimum, place one carbon monoxide (CO) outside of, but within ten (10) feet of, all sleeping areas. For the next level of protection, install one additional alarm on each level of the home. Put some alarms on or near the ceiling; others can be plugged into an electrical outlet. Do not install CO alarms within 15 feet of heating or cooking appliances, or in very damp areas such as bathrooms.

It is important that these devices be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions and not be placed in ‘dead’ air pockets such as corners of rooms, at the junction of walls and ceilings or within thirty-six (36) inches of ventilation ducts.

Replacing Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide alarms have an effective life span of approximately 5-7 years. Many manufacturers recommend these devices be replaced at six (6) year intervals. Read the instructions that come with your detector to know the life span for your specific detector.

Detector Troubleshooting

What if your carbon monoxide detector is "chirping" every so often? If you find that your detector is chirping, verify that there is no smoke or fire in the area. Once this is verified, replace the battery and press the "Test" button on the detector. If this does not solve the issue, the detector may be bad or it may be past its expiration date; replace the detector as soon as possible.

If you have questions regarding your carbon monoxide, contact the Fire Department at 763-635-1100.