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Have a fireplace? You need a carbon monoxide detector.

Curling up in front of the fireplace with the family can be an enjoyable, relaxing pastime. However, without a carbon monoxide detector, it is not without its risks. Fireplaces are a common source of carbon monoxide, a dangerous gas often called the “silent killer.” Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, spreading easily and capable of causing sickness and even death.

That’s why it is important to have a working carbon monoxide detector in every home.

Carbon monoxide is dangerous because it prevents the body’s absorption of oxygen, which can lead to tissue damage and death, sometimes in only minutes. Carbon monoxide detection is critical because symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often resemble those of the common cold or flu. They can be so subtle, in fact, that people sleeping or intoxicated have died from CO2 poisoning without even experiencing symptoms.

Symptoms include:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • weakness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • chest pain
  • confusion

Sources of carbon monoxide include fireplaces, chimneys,  gas ovens and ranges, wood stoves, gas water heaters, broken furnaces, and gas space heaters. Cars, boats, and other vehicles are also sources of carbon monoxide.

Because CO2 poisoning can be so dangerous, particularly to pregnant women, the elderly, people with heart or lung disease, and young children, it is recommended to have a working smoke alarm/carbon monoxide detector in every room. It may seem excessive, but detectors in the living room or kitchen can’t always detect CO2 gases in the bedroom. Additionally, CO2 can travel via air ducts and registers to other parts of the building far from its original source.

Regular testing is also essential. Often homeowners neglect to test the detector’s batteries.  However, many models, including the Kidde Battery Powered Talking Combination Carbon Monoxide & Smoke Alarm, will verbally alert you when it’s time to perform a battery test. Another barrier to regular testing is the detector’s placement. If your smoke alarm/CO2 detector is placed on a high ceiling or other hard to reach place, it is recommended to use a broom handle or other long-handled item to press the testing button. Models such as the Kidde Battery Powered Talking Combination Carbon Monoxide & Smoke Alarm make it easy with their 1-inch × 1-inch testing button design.

Curling up in front of the fireplace can be a great way to spend time with the family. With the right carbon monoxide, it always will be.

Residents in the following states have enacted laws regarding carbon monoxide detectors or smoke alarms, as of January 2010.

  1. Alaska
  2. California
  3. Connecticut
  4. Florida
  5. Georgia
  6. Illinois
  7. Indiana
  8. Maine
  9. Maryland
  10. Massachusetts
  11. Michigan
  12. Montana
  13. New Hampshire
  14. New Jersey
  15. New York
  16. North Carolina
  17. Oregon
  18. Rhode Island
  19. Texas
  20. Utah
  21. Vermont
  22. Virginia
  23. Washington
  24. West Virginia
  25. Wisconsin

If you are a resident of one of the above states, please see our collection of carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms.