More than 400 people are killed each year in the United States from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Medical Association reports that carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States.
Other CDC studies indicate that more than 20,000 people are hospitalized each year from this gas, and these poisonings are on the rise due in part to economic reasons. With a stressed economy and high unemployment, more families face utility shutoffs. As a result, they employ other sources of heat, such as kerosene heaters, gas generators, and improperly maintained wood stoves and fireplaces. Such heat sources carry a heavy risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide alarms are essential protective devices in homes with gas appliances, gas heaters, and fireplaces. Here are some tips to consider concerning these important alarms.
To ensure a high-quality alarm, look for the Underwriters Laboratories certificate on any detector you purchase.
Connect these alarms to the smoke alarm system so that any alarm in the house becomes activated if a problem arises.
Periodically test these devices according to the manufacturer's instructions. Batteries should be replaced at least once per year. Replacement of the alarm itself is often necessary after a few years since the average life span of carbon monoxide alarms is relatively short.
Verify that you have alarms in bedrooms and other locations where people may sleep since people who are sleeping can die from carbon monoxide poisoning without experiencing any symptoms.