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June 2007
True or False: Test Your CO Knowledge

Carbon monoxide (CO) is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the country. Do you know the facts about CO? Take this quiz to see. Having the right answers could save your life.

  1. If there is CO present in my home, I will be able to smell it or taste it.
  2. Small levels of CO in my home can't hurt me.
  3. Symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu, but without a fever.
  4. Carbon monoxide can have long-term side effects.
  5. The most important part of CO detection is prevention.
  6. CO poisoning can be caused by gas appliances with loose connections.
  7. If I suspect CO poisoning, I should remain in my house and call 911.
  8. CO detectors have a lifespan.
  9. I don't need a CO detector in my house if I don't have gas heat.
  10. Just one CO detector is sufficient for any home.
  11. As long as I open a window or door, it's okay to run a gas generator in my garage.
  12. If I have a smoke detector, the alarm will go off if CO is present.

  1. FALSE - CO is called the “silent killer” because it is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas. The only way to know if it could be a danger to you is to have a UL listed CO detector in your home. They are designed to sound an alarm before the CO level is high enough to present a hazard.
  2. FALSE - The effects CO has on you depend on the level of CO in your home and the length of exposure, combined with your health condition. Babies, children, elderly persons, pregnant women and pets are generally more sensitive to CO.
  3. TRUE - Symptoms of CO poisoning can include headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, stinging eyes, shortness of breath and confusion. Symptoms are rare, though, so if your CO detector goes off, get out. Don't wait for symptoms to arise.
  4. TRUE - CO can cause brain damage or even death, so CO poisoning should always be treated as a serious problem. If your CO detector goes off or you feel that you may be suffering from CO poisoning, call 911 immediately.
  5. TRUE - By carrying out safe, preventative practices when it comes to CO, you can protect your family. That includes ensuring that each gas appliance is properly installed, maintained annually and vented to the outside. However, it is still important to install a CO detector.
  6. TRUE - Gas appliances that are faulty or improperly installed can cause CO to leak into your home. That's why it is important for all of your appliances to be installed by a professional according to the manufacturer's instructions and local codes.
  7. FALSE - If you suspect CO poisoning, get out of your house immediately. Go to a neighbor's house and call 911. Do not reenter your home until you have been told it is safe to do so.
  8. TRUE - CO detectors have an average lifespan of about five years. It is very important to test and change your CO detector battery regularly (test it about once a month and change the batteries twice a year, or according to manufacturers' instructions). However, even if the battery appears to work, the sensor may no longer be able to detect CO, as the test feature on many detectors checks only the functioning of the alarm, not the sensor. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for testing and to determine the lifespan of your detector.
  9. FALSE - CO can come from several gas appliances, including dryers, ranges, water heaters and furnaces. It can also come from clogged chimney flues, or from leaving your vehicle running in an attached garage. If there is any potential for CO poisoning in your home, you should have a CO detector.
  10. FALSE - You should have at least one CO detector for every level of your home, installed outside every sleeping area and family room, but away from air vents and fans.
  11. FALSE - It's never okay to use any portable fuel-burning equipment, like a generator, grill, gasoline-powered tools or a running car, inside a home or garage, even if doors or windows are open.
  12. FALSE - Smoke and CO are two completely different substances; therefore, a smoke detector will not go off if there is CO in your home. Only a CO detector can alert you to dangerous levels of CO in your home. There are some combination smoke/CO detectors on the market. Check your local home improvement store if you are interested in combination detectors.