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Having a carbon monoxide detector in your home may not just make good sense, but may also be city or state law depending upon where you live. Since, unlike smoke, which you might detect if you were awake, carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, it is unlikely you would be awakened by a leak in your home. Carbon monoxide can leak from any source that uses fossil fuels to create heat. These can include installed furnaces, boilers, water heaters, and fireplaces. Some portable heaters use fossil fuels and may require appropriate ventilation and the installation of a carbon monoxide detector.
These detectors are not expensive, and can readily be purchased at hardware stores. You can even find combination smoke/ carbon monoxide detectors. Having both just makes good sense for the health and safety of yourself and anyone who resides with you. When installing the detector, you should be certain that one is installed with 15 feet (4.57 m) of the entrance to any bedroom. If you have a large home, or a home with several levels, you should plan to install several in the home.
It also makes good sense to have any heat source, like gas furnaces or water heaters checked yearly by your local power company. This is normally a free service, along with pilot relighting, offered by local power and gas companies. Plan to have this done about a month prior to needing to use your heater; this may vary depending upon where you live. You may also want to schedule an appointment at least a month in advance because you may have to wait several weeks to a month for someone to check these levels, unless you believe there is currently a carbon monoxide leak. This latter situation is an emergency situation and should be checked immediately by your local gas or power company or the fire department.
Many people wonder what to do if their carbon monoxide detector goes off. This is an excellent question. If you note symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, extreme headache, dizziness, or illness, get outside immediately. If you live in an apartment that shares boiler heating, you may want to alert others as you vacate the building of the suspected leak. Call 911 once you are outdoors. If for some reason you cannot get outdoors immediately, open all the windows in your home and try to stand near an open window and breathe in fresh air. In either case call emergency services to have this potentially deadly leak checked out immediately.
Where there are no laws in a city or state that call for the installation of a carbon monoxide detector, it’s still safer to have one. Consider using one in any home with heat that burns fossil fuels, in any apartment, condo, or dorm room that uses boilers or gas heating, and basically in any home. It is tremendously tragic when people are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, but it is a tragedy you can prevent by purchasing a carbon monoxide detector and installing it according to its instructions.