CO Alarm Reminder: Install Them; Test Them

November 28, 2011

City of Madison firefighters have been responding to a flurry of carbon monoxide calls in recent weeks. One station reports averaging one or two calls a day, mostly for low battery alarms.

With furnaces and fireplaces heating up for the season, it's important to check carbon monoxide alarms regularly - once a month - to ensure that they are operable. Keep fresh batteries in alarms and familiarize yourself with the sound alarms make when the battery is low.

Keep in mind that the sensing mechanism in carbon monoxide alarms lasts just 5 years. To ensure safety in your home, the alarms should be replaced at that time.

Last year, the Wisconsin State Assembly passed a bill requiring carbon monoxide alarms on all floors of single-family homes and two-unit dwellings. The detectors are also required in other types of housing.

Improperly vented furnaces and fireplaces are a common source of carbon monoxide leaks, which often leads to an increase in the number of incidents at the start of the home heating season.

The City of Madison Fire Department reminds residents:
• CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards.
• Follow the manufacturer's instructions for placement and mounting height.
• Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
• Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer's instructions.
• If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it.
• If it still sounds, call the fire department.
o If anyone is feeling ill or having flu-like symptoms (nausea, headache, dizziness) leave the house immediately and call 911
o If there are no signs of illness, turn off any fuel-burning equipment, open windows to bring fresh air into the home, and call your utility company or a heating contractor to inspect your system for problems
• If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
• During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
• A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
• Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO - only use outside.

Contact:
  • Lori Wirth, (608) 266-5947