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Carbon Monoxide

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless toxic gas produced during incomplete combustion of fuel - Natural Gas, Oil, Coal, Wood, Kerosene, etc. 

What problems can Carbon Monoxide cause?

Carbon Monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association  Approximately 1,500 people die annually due to accidental carbon monoxide exposure, and an additional 10,000 require medical attention. 

Medical experts agree that it's difficult to estimate the total number of carbon monoxide incidents because the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning resemble so many other common ailments.

Low levels of carbon monoxide poisoning (levels of 10%) result in symptoms commonly mistaken for common flu and cold symptoms - shortness of breath on mild exertion, mild headaches, nausea.

With higher levels of poisoning ( levels of 30%) the symptoms become more severe - dizziness, mental confusion, severe headaches, nausea, fainting on mild exertion.


At high levels ( 50% or more) there may be unconsciousness and death. 

Will low levels of Carbon Monoxide cause problems with long term exposure?

Long term  exposure of low levels are as deadly as high exposure for a short term.

What good is a Carbon Monoxide detector if the problem is present?

Carbon Monoxide detectors will sound if there is a presence of Carbon Monoxide.   

What is the difference between a carbon monoxide detector that is sold in hardware stores and one that is installed with my alarm?

There have been cases of Carbon Monoxide detectors making noise and the family sleeping through it.  With an alarm system that is monitored by central station, the signal goes to central station, they will then verify the alarm and dispatch the proper authorities. 

In December of 2001,  a Hicksville family slept through the alarm going off, and central station called to dispatch the fire department.  When the fire department arrived, they found the house sealed tight and the residents still sleeping inside.  They were being exposed to low levels over an extended period of time, and had to be rushed to the hospital.    The family has recovered from the experience.

The Law

On February 4, 2003 NY State enacted a revision to the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code to require carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in "one and two family homes, townhouses, condominiums and cooperatives.  At least one (CO) alarm is recommended per dwelling unit with the minimum requirement of one unit in the bedroom hallway"  In addition, any dwellings that are for sale will not pass inspection unless a (CO) detector is installed.

 

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