Carbon Monoxide and Smoke: The Silent Killers

Each year in the United States there are more than 350,000 home fires. These fires result in over 2,500 deaths every year. Of these deaths, approximately 60% of them occur in homes with no smoke detectors or malfunctioning smoke detectors. On top of that, approximately 200 people are killed each year by carbon monoxide poisoning and about 5,000 people are injured. These deaths most commonly occur where there are improperly used, malfunctioning, or nonexistent carbon monoxide detectors.

Most home fires result in death by smoke inhalation. This occurs when, while sleeping, someone ingest smoke causing suffocation. This most often occurs in the overnight hours and while people within the home are sleeping. If your home is equipped with smoke detectors that are properly functioning, the alarm sounding will awaken everyone and save their lives.

Since there are outward signs of fire, carbon monoxide is an even sneakier subject. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be continuous throughout the day as the dangerous fumes begin to fill a home. In a small home or a home without much drafting, the effects can be felt rather quickly. By installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home, you are securing the safety of everyone who lives within it.

Here are some simple steps everyone can take to protect the lives of everyone in your home:

  • If you do not currently have smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors, contact an electrician to have them installed in your home. It is a requirement that each bedroom in your home have a smoke detector. It is also required that each floor of your home have a smoke detector. A carbon monoxide detector is required within 15' of any sleeping area (bedroom) in your home. In some cases, a smoke and carbon monoxide combo detector can be used in the center point of a hallway so long as it meets the above criteria.

  • All units/devices in your home must be interconnected and must be 120 volts with a battery back up.

  • If your detectors are "chirping" make sure to change the batteries immediately to keep them functioning properly.

  • Test all your detectors by pressing the "test" button on the device to ensure that it is in proper working order. If you feel that your detectors are not functioning due to electrical issues, contact an electrician immediately to have the problem resolved. All devices should be tested once per month.

If your alarm is going off because you are cooking:

  • Press the "hush" or "silent" button on your device.

  • Wave a towel in front of the alarm to clear the smoke from the detector.

  • Open windows or turn on the exhaust fan above your stove to expedite the removal of smoke.

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