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Do You Have A CO Detector In Your Home?

2012 April 5

By Lina Younes

Recently I was reading the weekly community paper and a front page story caught my attention. “CO detector saves local family.” According to the article, the local fire department station responded to a carbon monoxide (CO) detector going off in the early morning hours. The homeowners were awakened by the CO detector that detected the presence of carbon monoxide in the home. When the firefighters arrived, they found unhealthy levels of the poisonous gas in the home as a result of a broken furnace exhaust pipe which was discharging the exhaust directly into the home. Had the family not had a CO detector, the outcome of this incident would have been very different.

Unfortunately, carbon monoxide poisonings often occur as a result of people using generators in closed areas or using gas burning appliances improperly in the home. Using these appliances properly can prevent carbon monoxide poisonings. As we saw in this case, a CO detector quickly indicated unhealthy CO levels early, thus protecting the family.

Why are carbon monoxide detectors important? Well, carbon monoxide is an odorless toxic gas which you can’t see, taste or smell. Exposure to these toxic fumes at low levels can easily be mistaken for flu-like symptoms. Yet, at a higher concentration or a lengthier exposure, CO will be deadly. Detectors will quickly register unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide, thus setting an alarm. It is recommended to place these CO detectors just outside of sleeping areas so that they will alert families even while sleeping and help save them as we saw in this instance.

  • What other steps can you take to prevent carbon monoxide from entering your home?
  • Well, first and foremost, never use generators inside the home or enclosed areas
  • Keep your gas appliances properly adjusted
  • Install and use exhaust fans vented to the outdoors over gas stoves
  • If you are going to burn wood in your home, do so properly.

By taking these simple steps, you’ll have a healthier indoor environment and protect your family. Stay safe.

About the author: Lina Younes is the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. Among her duties, she’s responsible for outreach to Hispanic organizations and media. She spearheaded the team that recently launched EPA’s new Spanish website, . She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. She’s currently the editor of EPA’s new Spanish blog, Conversando acerca de nuestro medio ambiente. Prior to joining the agency, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and an international radio broadcaster. She has held other positions in and out of the Federal Government.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. Zubair permalink
    April 5, 2012

    it will be great to have a CO detector now a days the amount of pollution is increasing so.. it will help us to reduce the amount off pollution

  2. Arman.- permalink
    April 5, 2012


    The Poorest people in the world do not know a CO detector. They just should know if among of them have sick and the paramedics diagnose in it. Their activities very simple: get up, working and sleep in worst room. No Apps, No credit card, No health care and No secondary tools. Many people forget to the others who are sufferance….

  3. Kathy Sykes permalink
    April 9, 2012

    I wanted our readers to know that the EPA prepared a fact sheet in English and Spanish, as well as a number of other languages on prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning.

    The link to the fact sheet can be found at

  4. June 14, 2012

    The original type of detector of carbon monoxide was the metal oxide detector. Using the reaction that occurs when carbon monoxide comes in contact with tine oxide, this detector uses the homes’ wiring to power the reactor and alarm.

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