Carbon Monoxide Information

A new law went into effect on August 1, 2009 that requires carbon monoxide (CO) detectors to be installed within 10 feet of rooms used for sleeping.

Features to look for when purchasing a CO detector include:
  • A unit with a digital readout
  • A memory feature (peak level indicator)
  • Units that use an electrical plug-in power source and battery back-up
  • The Underwriters Laboratory (UL) standards known as UL-2034
Manufacturers recommend CO detectors be replaced every five years from the date of manufacture, located on the back of the detector.

What is CO?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and toxic gas produced as a byproduct of combustion. Examples of CO-producing devices include:
  • Gas appliances and pilot lights
    • Furnaces
    • Stoves
    • Dryers
    • Water heaters
  • Fireplaces and wood stoves
  • Charcoal grills
  • Lawnmowers, snow blowers, and other yard equipment
  • Automobiles

Signs of CO Poisoning

The following symptoms may signal CO poisoning:
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Cherry red skin
  • Nausea
  • Unconsciousness
The following signs may signal dangerous levels of CO:
  • Excessive humidity indicated by heavily frosted windows
  • Stale odor
  • Burning eyes

How to Prevent CO Build-Up

  • Supply adequate fresh air to all fuel-burning appliances
  • Never use a grill indoors, not even in the garage
  • Don't warm up a vehicle inside the garage
  • Perform annual maintenance checks on:
    • Fireplaces (gas and wood)
    • Home ventilation systems
    • All gas appliances
    • Chimneys
For more information on preventing CO poisoning in your home, find more information from the Minnesota Department of Health (PDF) or the State Fire Marshal (PDF).