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Myths and Truths Everyone Should Know About Carbon Monoxide

Myth #1: A Carbon Monoxide Detector Ensures Safety

While everyone needs a carbon monoxide detector, the reality is that the detector’s ability to detect CO depends on where it is in the home. If CO is building up in one part of the home but the detector is in another, it may not work until it is too late, or at all. The solution to this is to have multiple detectors throughout your home, and to ensure that they are replaced every five years. Also, ensure that you don’t use too many gases (such as hair spray, cooking spray, etc.) near the detector, as once the chemicals inside have reacted with other gases, the detector is useless.

Due to alarms going off too often, the standards for alarms have changed. CO detectors are built to ignore low levels of CO, and even higher levels in some cases. However, young, elderly, or sensitive people may have ill effects even at low levels. It’s important to realize that a detector will not always keep your family safe, so it’s best to eliminate risks instead of focusing on detecting the resulting gas.

Myth #2: Gas Appliances Cause CO Issues

This isn’t true because the majority of CO issues are not caused by the appliance itself. The majority of appliances do not produce substantial amounts of CO regularly. The problem is often something external to the appliance, and one of the major risks is insufficient venting of appliances. Other common issues are blocked, leaking, disconnected, or back-drafting flues which are connected to the appliances. These are the real risk and should be checked to ensure that they are in safe, functioning order.

Myth #3: Having Windows Open Keeps You Safe from CO

This is actually the complete opposite. While the air coming in the windows may dilute the CO, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the CO will go straight to the window and out of the home. Also, if you have a window open in a certain room and CO is building in other parts of the home, the window which allows air to be pulled out of the home may actually pull the CO into the rooms with the windows and cause it to spread faster. The best way to prevent CO issues is to have systems and appliances checked regularly to prevent exposure.