Protect Yourself from Carbon Monoxide

Prevention Tips

  • Install at least one battery-operated CO alarm or AC-powered unit with battery backup on each level of your home and near sleeping areas.
  • Do not use charcoal or gas grills inside or operate outdoors near a window where CO fumes can accumulate and could seep in.
  • Check all CO alarms in your home regularly. Do they use the most accurate sensing technology? Do they need new batteries?
  • Replace CO alarms every five to seven years to benefit from the latest technology upgrades.
  • Install fuel-burning appliances properly and operate them according to the manufacturer's instructions. Have a licensed professional inspect fuel-burning appliances annually.
  • Keep chimneys clear of animal nests, leaves and residue to ensure proper venting. Have all fireplaces cleaned and inspected annually.
  • Do not block or seal shut the exhaust flues or ducts used by water heaters, ranges and clothes dryers.
  • Do not leave your car running in an attached garage or carport.
  • Do not use ovens or stoves to heat your home.

CO Alarms

CO alarms monitor your home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and are designed to provide accurate readings for the life of the alarm. But they don’t last forever. When your alarm nears its end of life, it will let you know by beeping 2 times every 30 seconds. Knowing how to identify these sounds and what they mean is essential to keeping your home safe.

CO alarm beeping? Identify the beep

  • End-of-life warning will occur every 30 seconds.
  • Replacing the battery WON'T STOP the beep.
  • The beep will ONLY STOP when the alarm is out of power.

End-of-life Warning: Required for Your Safety

In 2009, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) began requiring an end-of-life warning to alert homeowners when their CO alarm has reached the end of its useful life.
Important Note! CO alarms do not detect the presence of carbon monoxide when in end-of-life mode.

Replace your CO alarms before the end-of-life warning. If you think your CO alarm is nearing its end-of-life, replace it today.

How to Choose a CO Alarm

Now that you know more about the dangers of CO, the next logical question is “what can I do to protect my home?” Of course, before you choose an alarm, it helps to familiarize yourself with technology, features and other factors.

It's important to choose CO alarms that have the most accurate sensing technology available. CO alarms are designed to alert you when CO levels begin to accumulate over a period of time and will sound before most people would experience any symptoms of CO poisoning. The more accurate the alarm, the greater chance you and your family have of responding appropriately to the problem.

Below are key factors to look for when purchasing a CO alarm:

  • Electrochemical sensor: Alarms with electrochemical sensors are more stable during humidity and temperature changes and resist reacting to common household chemicals that may cause false readings.
  • End-of-life warning: This feature alerts you when it's time to replace the alarm.
  • UL or CSA listed: CO alarms should meet the third-party standards set by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Canadian Standards Association (CSA). A UL listed or CSA listed label should be printed on the product's packaging.

Also, be sure to consider these major features:

  • Accuracy: Look for a statement on the package about the alarm's accuracy level. If the CO alarm is UL listed, then the accuracy statement will have been certified by UL, too.
  • Battery-Operated: If you live in areas prone to power outages or own a gas-powered generator, you should consider a battery-powered CO alarm with a backlit digital display. Battery-operated units offer 24-hour-a-day CO monitoring when power is interrupted. The backlit digital display allows the user to view the CO level in the dark. The alarm can also be placed on a shelf or wall or moved from room to room.
  • Digital Display: A digital display screen clearly shows the level of CO detected in the home and updates the reading every 15 seconds.
  • Peak-Level Memory: This feature records the highest level of CO present. Knowing the CO level in the home can help emergency personnel determine treatment.
  • Plug-in with Battery Backup: Easy to plug into any electrical socket, these alarms include a 9V battery for protection during short-term power outages.
  • Voice Warning: This feature clearly announces the threat present in the home, in addition to emitting the traditional alarm beep. It is often a feature of combination smoke/CO alarms.

Placement and maintenance

Now you’ve selected the right solutions for your home. Here is the important part: knowing where to place them and how to properly maintain them.

  • Install at least one CO alarm on every floor and in sleeping areas.
  • Make sure CO alarms are at least 15 feet away from cooking or heating appliances to prevent false alarms.
  • Don't cover or obstruct the unit. Test the CO alarm monthly.
  • Replace CO alarms every 7 to 10 years (depending on your model) to benefit from the latest technology upgrades.

CO Alarm Laws

Do you know the CO alarm laws in your state? Knowing the laws can ensure avoidance of any fines or penalties. And more importantly, it can save lives. Learn about the laws in your state using the laws & legislation map found here: