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How to Read a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Over 20,000 Americans visit the ER each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home is smart, their effectiveness depends on you being able to read them.

Fortunately, our fire protection contractors will be more than happy to help you understand how to read your CO detectors.

Install CO Detectors Correctly

Just like smoke detectors, you’ll need carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas. Typically, the manufacturer will recommend you install the CO detectors near the ceiling. If you don’t feel comfortable installing CO detectors, call our fire protection contractors. We’re always more than happy to help customers make their homes safer.

Carbon monoxide weighs the same as air. However, carbon monoxide is warmer than air when it leaks from fuel-burning appliances. Since heat rises, the carbon monoxide floats to the ceiling where it will be detected by your carbon monoxide alarms.

While most carbon monoxide leaks come from fuel-burning appliances, you shouldn’t install your CO detectors too close. It’s not uncommon for fuel-burning appliances to release a puff of concentrated carbon monoxide when they first switch on, which could give your CO alarm an inaccurately high reading.

Understand How CO Is Measured

Carbon monoxide is measured in parts per million (PPM). This simply means that for every million parts of air, one of those parts is carbon monoxide. PPM is often used to quantify how much liquid or gas contaminant is present.

Know When CO Levels Are Dangerous

If your CO levels creep above 35 PPM, evacuate your home and call 911. While this shouldn’t be taken as a strict guideline, it helps you understand when carbon dioxide becomes dangerous.

35 PPM                                 Maximum concentration allowed by federal law

200 PPM                              Headaches, dizziness, or nausea after 2 -3 hours

400 PPM                              Severe headaches after 1-2 hours, death after 3 hours

1,600 PPM                           Death in 1 hour

10,000 PPM                        Death in less than 10 minutes

Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Dull headache
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Blurry vision

If you recognize any of the above symptoms, visit your local ER as soon as possible. Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are likely to show up first in children, the elderly, and pets. We highly encourage homeowners install carbon monoxide detectors so they can prevent illness or even death. The less carbon monoxide you breathe the better chance you’ll have of making a full recovery.

Stay Calm

Just because there’s a reading above 0 PPM, doesn’t mean you need to evacuate your home and call 911. In general, federal law considers any reading under 35 PPM to be safe for people exposed more than 8 hours. However, this is only a guideline and not an absolute rule.

Our fire protection contractors can help you find the best carbon monoxide detector for your home or commercial building. To learn more about our fire protection services, call Fire Pros at 800-968-2871.

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Local Reviews

Rated 4.9 out of 5 stars based on 1922 customer reviews

Map of Canton, MI

Alex knows his stuff!




Alex is and was very professional. He was able to answer all my crazy questions!


Map of Portland, MI

Great Service





Map of Farmington Hills, MI

great person





Map of Kentwood, MI

Nice Service Reps. Nice guys who explained everything clearly.





Map of Belding, MI

Great Guy!





Map of Grand Rapids, MI

Very knowledgeable




walked me through what he had found and advised on next steps


Map of Georgetown Township, MI

Great Service




Very smooth and helpful.


Map of Hudsonville, MI

Happy Customer for years




Each year they come on time for our inspections - every person that I have seen for 10 years has been knowledgeable and friendly. They let us know if something isn't working correctly and can usually fix it on the spot or shortly thereafter. Follow up is quick and thorough.


Map of Saginaw, MI

Very Friendly, helped us out quickly!




Up front about the service he provided and the follow up. Very courteous.


Map of Detroit, MI

Great servcie




The guy who came to my facility really cared. I believe his name was Alex. He explained everything to me and was very knowledgeable.


Great Company!





Annual Inspection





Very polite and was professional





Excellent Service





Knowledgeable service tech





Arrived right on time, done quickly





great service!





Thank you





Service and Communication




Both were great, showed up early and explained what the plan was and followed up when done!


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did a great jod


Gary B.

Gary B.

Install (4) new LED exit lights to replace old units - repair Return to complete E light repairs (3 dual lite 3 cell batteries) Emergency / Exit Lights Repair Awaiting confirmation NOTICE OF NON-COMPLIANCE AND REPAIR NEEDED Thank you for giving Fire Pros, LLC the opportunity to service your fire protection needs. This proposal is being presented based on a recent inspection of your Emergency/Exit Lights and is priced to be done during normal business hours. To discuss this proposal, please contact: Hannah Krumenacker. Phone: 616-588-0753 Email: [email protected] CUSTOMER AGREES TO PAY COMPANY THE FEES OUTLINED BELOW PLUS VEHICLE/FUEL CHARGES THAT MAY BE ASSESSED FOR THE CONTRACTED-FOR EQUIPMENT REPAIR OR REPLACEMENT.Sales tax is not included in this quote and will be charged in addition to the below prices. If your company is tax exempt, please provide tax exempt or resale certificate, otherwise sales tax will be assessed and must be paid. TERMS: NET 30 DAYS AND THIS QUOTE IS

Near S State Rd, Portland, MI 48875
John H.

John H.

Portable Extinguishers and Kitchen Suppression Inspection

Near S Iroquois Row, Bay Mills Township, MI 49715
Mike R.

Mike R.

Annual Fire Alarm Inspection (22 devices) ((2) Edwards EST-1)

Near N Lester Ave, White Cloud, MI 49349
Brandon  F.

Brandon F.

Near E Paris Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
Ron  R.

Ron R.

Near Cascade Rd SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
David H.

David H.

Near Chicago Dr, Zeeland, MI 49464
Matt S.

Matt S.

Annual Portable Fire Extinguisher Inspections (approx. 12 units) Annual Exit / Emergency Lighting Inspections (approx. 52 units)

Near Venture Park Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Art L.

Art L.

Emergency / Exit Lights and Portable Extinguishers Inspection

Near 40th Ave, Hudsonville, MI 49426
David H.

David H.

Annual Fire Extinguisher Inspection (13 FE)

Near N Michigan Ave, Manton, MI 49663
Sean W.

Sean W.

Near E Main St, Fremont, MI 49412
Camp M.

Camp M.

Semiannual special hazards suppression system inspection.

Near Plymouth Oaks Blvd, Plymouth, MI 48170
Alex R.

Alex R.

Dropped off Spare Replacement Head For Room 433 That was Claimed to have been lost. Located missing head found in dresser drawer. Cleaned head and replaced. All systems normal and reset ***.

Near Stephenson Hwy, Troy, MI 48083
John H.

John H.

Portable Extinguishers Inspection

Near S Plantation Rd, Brimley, MI 49715
Alex R.

Alex R.

Dropped off Replacement Head For Room 433 EST Dealer Has to program Unit due to Panels automatic mapping is not turned on.

Near Stephenson Hwy, Troy, MI 48083
Tyler H.

Tyler H.

Near Venture Park Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Tyler H.

Tyler H.

Annual Fire Alarm System Inspections (Simplex 4010 w/approx. 75 devices)

Near Venture Park Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Art L.

Art L.

Portable Extinguishers Inspection

Near 37th Ave, Hudsonville, MI 49426
Brandon  F.

Brandon F.

Near Danvers Dr SE, Kentwood, MI 49512
David H.

David H.

Alarm Systems Inspection

Near N Michigan Ave, Manton, MI 49663
Mike R.

Mike R.

Annual Pull Cord Inspections Annual Fire Alarm Inspection (48 devices) (National Time PT-400)

Near Lawndale St, Ludington, MI 49431
Jeff D.

Jeff D.

Semi-annual Fire Extinguisher Inspection (3 FE) Semi-annual Kitchen Suppression System Inspection (PCL 4.6gal AB) Semi-annual Exit & Emergency Lighting Inspection (17 units)

Near W Washington St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Art L.

Art L.

Portable Extinguishers Inspection

Near Rivertown Pkwy, Grandville, MI 49418
Gary B.

Gary B.

Semi-annual Fire Extinguisher Inspection (47 FE's) Portable Extinguishers Inspection

Near Gooding St, Belding, MI 48809
Art L.

Art L.

Portable Extinguishers Delivery

Near Taft Ave SW, Wyoming, MI 49519
Alex R.

Alex R.

Trouble Shot System (System Reflected Horn South open ckt) after investigation found blown 3A 250 volt Glass fuse on simplex mother board. Replaced Fuse and Reset system. ***All systems Normal and Reset ***

Near Drake Rd, Farmington Hills, MI 48331