How to Read a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Fire Pros Inc.Fire SafetyHow 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 Inc. at 1-800-968-2871.