Did you change the batteries in your smoke alarm this past weekend as you turned your clock forward? How about your carbon monoxide detector? Carbon monoxide or CO detectors may not be as familiar as smoke alarms to some people, but they are just as important. And now, they’re the law.

Just like smoke alarms, CO detectors now are required in single-family homes as well as duplexes. They already were required in multifamily homes or apartments.

More than 15,000 people are treated for unintentional CO poisoning each year. CO is extremely dangerous because it is a colorless, odorless gas that only can be detected by installing CO detectors.

CO detectors can be purchased for $15-$20 and should be maintained just as you would a smoke alarm. Be sure to test them monthly, vacuum regularly to clear them of dust and change the batteries when you change your clocks in the spring and fall.

It also is important to have all fuel-burning appliances in your home serviced each year by a certified professional. This helps eliminate any potential cause for CO poisoning.

If you don’t already have a CO detector installed in your home, get one. You have until February 2011 to do it, but why wait? It’s inexpensive and it saves lives.

Libby Slavin– Libbe Slavin, coordinator, Safe Kids Wisconsin

A member of Safe Kids Worldwide, Safe Kids Wisconsin works to prevent accidental injuries, the leading cause of death among children 14 years of age and younger. The coalition combines the expertise of Safe Kids coalitions and chapters statewide to prevent childhood injuries through collaboration, education, policy and advocacy initiatives. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is its lead agency.


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