Guide for Buying a
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detector:
Please follow these safety tips:
DO NOT use an oven or range as a heater.
DO NOT let the car run in an attached
DO NOT use a gas or kerosene space heater
inside a home, garage, cabin or other enclosed space.
CO detectors cost about $25-50 and can
often be found near the smoke detectors at
your local department or hardware store.
Before purchasing, be sure the
detector is United Laboratoriesapproved (look for “UL2034”
on the package) to ensure
DO NOT sleep in a room with an un-vented
gas or kerosene space heater.
DO NOT operate
fuel-powered engines (generators,
chain saws, etc.)
DO NOT use a
barbecue grill indoors.
DO follow operating and maintenance instructions for fuel-burning appliances and
When using fuel-burning appliances, look for
these warning signs:
A gas appliance with a yellow flame (it
should burn blue).
Soot build-up on or around your appliances.
Rust stains on vents or chimneys.
Increased condensation on windows.
Lack of hot water.
Furnace running longer and not heating as
Call a certified repairman immediately if you
see any of these warning signs.
If you buy a plug-in detector, make sure
that it also has battery back-up so it will
work during a power outage.
The digital number display is optional. It
will show the level of carbon monoxide in
the air in the event of a leak. This is helpful, but not required. If the alarm sounds,
you should leave your house, no matter
how big or small the number displayed is.
If you receive heating assistance, you may
be eligible for a free CO detector. Please
contact the agency responsible for your
PO Box 30195
Lansing, Michigan 48909
(517) 335-8350
Special thanks to the Montana Department of Public Health &
Human Services for providing much of this information.
Protect Yourself From
Carbon Monoxide
Poisoning at Home
Michigan Department of Community Health
PO Box 30195
Lansing, Michigan 48909
(517) 335-8350
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Where Does CO Come From?
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas.
You can’t see or smell it; yet it can kill you
and others within minutes if you breathe in
high levels of the gas. Even at low levels,
carbon monoxide still can make you very
Small amounts of CO are produced whenever
fuels such as gas, oil, kerosene, charcoal or
wood are burned. Normally the gases are sent
outside through a chimney or venting system. If
there is a problem though, the smoke or exhaust
can leak inside your house and carbon monoxide
could build up to dangerous levels within
While prevention of CO is your first priority,
you should also install CO detectors.
What Can You Do?
Be sure to note how long the sensor located inside the detector is expected to last—the sensor
doesn’t last forever and will have to be replaced
according to the manufacturer’s directions. Most
detectors will last for about seven years.
Symptoms of CO Poisoning
Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, confusion, nausea,
and shortness of
breath. These symptoms are similar to
the flu. However, if
you feel better when
you leave your home
for a while or many
of your family members become ill at the
same time, it may be
carbon monoxide poisoning. People with anemia, heart or lung
problems, children and unborn babies are
most at risk of carbon monoxide’s deadly effects.
You can protect your household by having a
trained professional perform a safety inspection
on all fuel-burning appliances each fall. Call
your utility company or heating contractor for an
appointment. This is the most important step you
can take!
The inspector should check to make sure:
Appliances are installed and operating
All burners are getting enough outside/fresh air for
complete combustion.
No appliance is
producing a dangerous level of CO.
What To Do if You Suspect CO
Move yourself, your family and your pets to
fresh air quickly. If you don’t, you could pass
out within minutes and die. If you feel ill, call
911 from outside your home or go directly to
an emergency room. There is a blood test that
can quickly check for CO poisoning. The
faster you are treated, the better your chances
for a quick recovery.
Make sure a qualified professional checks
your fuel-burning appliances (furnaces, etc)
before you return home.
All vents, chimneys
and flues are clear and well-connected.
Plug-in and battery-powered detectors are designed to sound an alarm when they sense harmful CO levels. Use detectors only as a back-up
measure, not as a substitute for common sense
and an annual appliance inspection and maintenance.
You should test your detector monthly. If your
detector is battery-powered, the battery should
be replaced twice a year (just like a smoke detector).
Install CO detectors
on the wall or
ceiling outside your
bedroom and in the
furnace room.
While some CO detectors may look like smoke
detectors, their purpose is completely different.
For a safe home, you should have smoke AND
carbon monoxide detectors.