In New Jersey, where many of us ward off the winter chill with gas furnaces and fireplaces, it’s essential to take steps to protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide detectors can help you do this, but only if they’re working correctly.
While well-maintained modern fuel-burning appliances are extremely safe, on rare occasions they can malfunction and release carbon monoxide (CO) gas into your home.
Exposure to this gas is potentially fatal, but because it’s colorless and odorless, you need a CO detector to know it’s there. Low-level CO exposure causes headaches, dizziness, and fatigue, symptoms easily mistaken for the flu or ordinary tiredness. If a CO leak occurs while you’re asleep, you could slip into unconsciousness and die without ever waking. Due to their small size, children and pets are especially vulnerable.
Carbon monoxide detectors pick up on even low-level amounts of CO in the air and sound a loud, high-pitched alarm to alert you. If you’re asleep, the alarm will wake you, giving you plenty of time to get your family out of the house before anyone falls ill.
Check the front or side of the detector for a button labeled “test” or “test/reset.” Press the button for 5 seconds or until the alarm sounds. If no alarm sounds, either the batteries are dead or the detector is faulty and should be replaced. Most detectors with low batteries chirp every 30 seconds to alert you, so complete silence likely means a faulty detector.
Even if the batteries are still usable, it’s a good idea to put in fresh ones at the start of the heating season. CO leaks can occur during power outages, too, so don’t rely on electricity to run your detectors.
CO detectors last only around five to seven years, so if yours is this old, replace it even if it responds to the test button.
For more tips on installing and maintaining carbon monoxide detectors or for gas appliance safety inspections, contact us at Elite Air in the Hamilton, New Jersey, area.
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