Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Carbon Monoxide Alarms are now required in all Minnesota Single Family Homes

Minnesota Statute 299F.50 requires approved carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in all single family homes and multifamily apartment units with effective dates as follows:
• All new construction single family homes and multi-family dwellings where building permits were issued on or after January 1, 2007.
• All existing single family homes effective August 1, 2008.
• All existing multi-family or apartment dwelling units effective August 1, 2009.

Minnesota Statute 299F.50 does not apply to hospitals, nursing homes and boarding care homes.

What Actions Do I Take if My Carbon Monoxide Alarm Goes Off?

What you need to do if your carbon monoxide alarm goes off depends on whether anyone is feeling ill or not.

If no one is feeling ill:

1. Silence the alarm.
2. Turn off all appliances and sources of combustion (i.e. furnace and fireplace).
3. Call 911 and report that your CO alarm is sounding.
4. Evacuate all occupants.
5. Keep doors and windows closed to help the fire department determine if there actually was CO in your home.
6. Call a qualified professional to investigate the source of the possible CO buildup.

If illness is a factor:

1. Evacuate all occupants immediately.
2. Keep doors and windows closed to help the fire department determine if there actually was CO in your home.
3. Determine how many occupants are ill and determine their symptoms.
4. Call 911 and when relaying information to the dispatcher, include the number of people feeling ill.
5. Do not re-enter the home without the approval of a fire department representative.
6. Call a qualified professional to repair the source of the CO.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas that is difficult to detect because it is odorless and invisible. As a result, it is known as “the silent killer.” According to the CDC, 450 people die and nearly 21,000 CO exposures occur each year.

CO is produced by fuel-burning appliances and equipment in our homes. If you have heating, cooking or power equipment that uses fuels such as oil, natural gas, coal, wood, propane, gasoline, etc., then your home is at risk for potential CO poisoning. Homes with attached garages are also at risk, because vehicles left running in the garage can cause CO to seep into the home.

CO poisoning can be prevented by proper care and use of household equipment. CO alarms can provide early detection if CO leaks or accumulation occurs. Both are important for your safety.
- If you suspect CO poisoning in your home, call the appropriate responding agency, usually your local fire department or 9-1-1. Keep all emergency response numbers posted by every telephone.
- CO alarms are different from smoke alarms, and have different functions. CO alarms do not provide early warning of a fire. Smoke alarms do not provide early warning of CO exposure. Your home needs both CO and smoke alarm protection.

Symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to symptoms of the flu, and can include headache, dizziness, nausea and shortness of breath. To distinguish between symptoms of flu and CO poisoning - if you feel better after leaving home and then worse again when you return, it may be CO exposure causing the symptoms. If your CO alarm sounds check to see if it is plugged in properly, or if battery-powered, check the battery to be sure the device is operating. If you suspect that CO is leaking in your home, follow these steps:
- Open windows and doors to ventilate the rooms, or in severe cases of CO exposure, evacuate the home.
- Call to report that you suspect CO is accumulating. Usually the appropriate agency to call is the fire department or 9-1-1.
- Seek immediate medical treatment for anyone who has severe symptoms.
- Follow the advice of the responding agency before re-entering your home, and quickly obtain repairs as needed.