Everyone knows how important it is that you have smoke detectors in your home to help save you and your family in the event of a fire. However, did you know that smoke detectors alone are not enough to protect you from a silent killer that is responsible for over 400 deaths in the United States each year, according to the CDC? Carbon monoxide gas (CO) is this silent killer and it is also responsible for numerous serious injuries every year.
Deadly carbon monoxide gas can be found in fumes that are produced by burning fuel used in furnaces, gas stoves, or fireplaces. By using CO detectors in your home in addition to smoke detectors, you can prevent this tragedy from affecting your family.
Are You Required to Have a CO Detector and Smoke Detector?
Smoke detectors are required for every home in Texas and have been since September 1, 2007 for all one- and two-family dwellings built in the state. The state of Texas also requires that family homes and certain types of day-care and group home facilities must have carbon monoxide detectors. You should have a CO detector in your home even if you do not use natural gas and rely fully on electricity to heat your home.
In 2005 during the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the CDC was asked by the Texas Department of State Health Services to investigate the increase in CO incidents. Ten deaths and 78 CO poisoning injuries were found to be related to the use of gas-powered generators at residences that either did not have CO detectors or had detectors that did not function.
How Many CO and Smoke Detectors Should You Install in Your Home?
It is recommended by the International Association of Fire Chiefs that you install a CO detector on each level of your home, including basements. The same applies to smoke detectors. For increased protection, it is also suggested to install a detector in every bedroom. However if you can only install one CO detector per floor, that detector should be installed near the sleeping area in your home.
You will want to avoid placing either type of detector within 15 feet of your furnace or stove. These appliances may release a very small amount of CO, in addition to heat that may set your detectors off needlessly. You should also avoid placing the detectors in humid areas of your home, such as too close to your bathroom that may also cause the detectors to go off.
Detectors Only Protect if Working Properly
For the most part, CO and smoke detectors are relatively maintenance free. However, they can only protect you and your family if they are working properly. This means checking throughout the year to make sure their batteries are working. One of the best ways to remember to do this is to replace your batteries every six months when you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time. The Texas State Fire Marshal and the Texas Department of Insurance recommend testing your smoke detectors every month.
Don’t let a smoke or carbon monoxide-related tragedy add your family to the already too large a list of past fatalities and injuries. As simple as these detectors are to install, they are priceless when it comes to the protection of your family.