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EFD: Install carbon monoxide alarms, test monthly

ELKINS — The Elkins Fire Department is reminding area residents of the importance of installing carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in the home and testing them once a month. CO alarms provide an early warning of the presence of deadly CO gas, and monthly tests are vital to ensure they are working properly.

“Carbon monoxide is the invisible killer,” says Elkins Fire Department Chief Tom Meader. “It’s an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels burn incompletely. Inside the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles running in an attached garage or a generator running inside a home or attached garage can also produce dangerous levels. The only way to detect CO is with a working CO alarm.”

According to the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2016, fire departments responded to about 80,000 non-fire CO calls per year, almost all in the home. More than 400 people die each year, on average, from unintentional CO poisoning from consumer appliances, motor vehicles, and other sources, according to the CDC.

“CO monitors can cost as little as $5,” says Meader. “That’s well worth it when you consider you might be saving a life.”

The Elkins Fire Department, NFPA, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advise residents to take certain steps to ensure that their household is safe from CO.

“First, never ignore an alarming CO alarm,” says Meader. “It is warning you of a potentially deadly hazard. If the alarm signal sounds, do not try to find the source of the CO. Immediately move outside to fresh air and then call 911.”

Next, ensure your CO alarm is working properly by following the steps below:

• Test CO alarms once a month using the test button, and replace CO alarms if they fail to respond correctly when tested.

• Make sure you have CO alarms in your home outside each separate sleeping area, on every level and in other locations as required by laws, codes or standards.

• Replace the CO alarm according to manufacturer’s instructions or when the end-of-life signal sounds.

• Know the difference between the sound of the CO alarm and the smoke alarm and their low-battery signals. If the audible low-battery signal sounds, replace the batteries, or replace the device.

• Follow manufacturer’s installation instructions.

• For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one CO alarm sounds, they all sound.

Area residents with questions or concerns about CO alarm testing and alarm requirements may contact the Elkins Fire Department at 304-636-3433.

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