What if My Carbon Monoxide Alarm Goes Off?

Like your smoke alarms, the carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your house (and we hope you have them in your house) monitor the air in your home and ring the alarm when smoke or carbon monoxide is detected in the house.

But a house fire and CO exposure are two very different things.

  • If your smoke alarm sounds, you quickly judge the danger by seeing and smelling the smoke, feeling the heat on the other side of the door, seeing the fire flare up on the stove. You can judge the emergency or non-emergency.
  • If your CO alarm goes off all you can do is trust it. CO is invisible, odourless, tasteless. You can’t tell if you’re surrounded by it. So when the alarm tells you CO is in the air, you treat it as an emergency.

If your CO alarm makes noise…

If your CO alarm goes off,ask yourself, “what would Matthew Mcconaughey do?” The answer: stay cool.

  • Listen to specific kind of beep your alarm is letting out
    • If it’s one quick beep every 15 seconds, the battery is low. You’d know this with your fire alarm, but because people aren’t as familiar with CO alarms, they’re generally less certain. The digital display (if you have one) will read Lb in red.
    • If it’s one quick beep every 30 seconds, the alarm is sounding its own departure bells. It’s at the end of its life and needs to be replaced. The digital display (if you have one) will read End.
    • If your alarm detects the presence of carbon monoxide, the alarm will sound in a pattern, repeating 4 short beeps, 5 seconds of silence, then 4 short beeps again. This is an emergency.
  • Don’t stop to talk it over. Evacuate the house and call 911.
  • Make sure everybody is with you, including pets. The CO affects them the same way it affects us.
  • Stay out of the house until emergency responders have investigated the house, resolved the issue and reset your CO alarm.

Sources of CO?

CO comes from all over the home. Appliances using gas, oil, wood, coal or any kind of fossil fuel produce CO during combustion.

Your furnace or water heater might be leaking CO into air in the basement, or your gas or wood burning fireplace in the family room, or the unvented gas space heater you have in the bedroom.

Don’t become a statistic

  • 60% of Canadian families do not own a single CO alarm.
  • 15% of Canadians believe CO alarms last forever (false).
  • 18% believe CO alarms are only necessary if you have a gas furnace (false).
  • 44% of home owners do not keep up with regular maintenance for heating or other combustion systems.
  • 26% of CO alarm owners don’t think they have to replace CO alarms at a maximum of every 10 years (true).

So now that you know, make sure you have enough protection for your family at home. Contact a member of our team today to schedule your furnace maintenance and replace your CO alarm.