MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Sunday, we’ll spring ahead. Along with changing our clocks, we’re reminded to change our batteries on important household items.
Yes, firefighters want us to test and change out smoke detectors twice a year, but there’s another life-saving device in your home you might not be thinking about: The carbon monoxide detector.
Two weeks ago, Edina firefighters were called to a furnace fire. CO levels were dangerously high inside the second level of the home. The call was during the day, but fire fighters say had it been at night when the family was sleeping, they could have been poisoned by the colorless and odorless gas.
Lt. Todd Porthan said the homeowners had working CO detectors, but they were expired. The warning for help went silent.
Edina crews respond to a half dozen carbon monoxide calls a week and Porthan said there are 170 deaths each year from CO poisoning. It’s a frequent problem that is preventable.
“The life expectancy of a carbon monoxide detector is 5 to 7 years. So it’s a little shorter than a smoke detector, which we average right around 10 years,” Porthan said.
In 2007, Minnesota state law began requiring CO detectors in all new construction. In 2008, all single homes and in 2009 all multi-unit living areas like apartments were required to have the devices.
It’s recommended to have a CO alarm within 10 feet of each bedroom.
A beep from the test button doesn’t necessarily mean the detector is safe to rely on. The sensors are constantly taking readings. Porthan explained. Over time, they’ll wear themselves out.
“What you want to look for when you’re buying a CO detector is make sure the date of manufacturing is relatively recent,” said Porthan.
Models made after 2007 will alert you when they need to be replaced. Also, the state requires detectors to have a UL approval. Those alarms will sound within 15 minutes if CO levels become dangerous.
After a quick check, fire fighters say a two minute task could prevent them from coming to your home.
“We’re real good at changing our batteries in our smoke detectors,” Lt. Porthan said. “We want you to do the same in our carbon monoxide detectors. When you change your clocks, change your batteries.”
Some models can be plugged into the wall with a battery backup. Others are only battery-powered. You can buy a carbon monoxide detector for as little as $20.