Digital Exclusive: Checking your carbon monoxide detectors monthly can help save your life

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – At this time of year, people will be closing up their homes for the winter, which means something that you can’t see or smell can be a dangerous threat.

“Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless; it’s tasteless. The only way to know if you have CO in your home is if you have a working CO alarm,” said Captain Ryan Collins, Sioux City Fire Rescue.

Carbon monoxide can come from fuel-based appliances such as furnaces, gas stoves, generators, and water heaters, which produce a certain amount of CO.

If you’re warming up your vehicles in the garage in the mornings during the winter, open up the garage door so that the vehicle’s exhaust doesn’t come into the home along with the CO.

Captain Ryan Collins, Deputy Fire Marshall at the Sioux City Fire Rescue, said it’s important to check carbon monoxide detectors because CO can affect everyone differently, depending on their age and health concerns.

“It limits your body’s ability to take in oxygen from the air. Symptoms can be anywhere from a mild headache to nausea to general flu-like symptoms. But in more serious cases, it can lead to mental confusion and possibly even death,” said Captain Collins.

Carbon monoxide detectors constantly monitor the air in your home for any elevation in CO that might be present. If CO reaches a certain threshold, the detector will go off to let people know to take action.

There are different carbon monoxide detectors: ones that attach to ceilings, CO/smoke alarm combinations, ones that stick onto walls, and plug-in detectors.

Captain Collins adds everyone should test their CO detectors monthly by pushing on the test button to make sure that it’s working. 

“Carbon monoxide [detectors] do have an end of service life that could range anywhere from seven to ten years. At that point, certain models will alert you that the end of service life has been reached and needs to be replaced,” said Captain Collins.

He mentions CO detectors don’t replace smoke alarms, but they’re an additional safety feature for the home.

When a carbon monoxide detector goes off, fire officials recommend people not to investigate it themselves but remove everyone from the house and call 911.

For more information about carbon monoxide, visit the CDC’s website.

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