Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Is Your Home Safe? (cont.)

8. What should you do when the CO detector/alarm sounds?

Never ignore an alarming CO detector/alarm.
If the detector/alarm sounds:

  • Operate the reset button.
  • Call your emergency services (fire department or 911).
  • Immediately move to fresh air -- outdoors or by an open door/window.

9. How should a consumer test a CO detector/alarm to make sure it is working?

Consumers should follow the manufacturer's instructions. Using a test button, some detectors/alarms test whether the circuitry as well as the sensor which senses CO is working, while the test button on other detectors only tests whether the circuitry is working. For those units which test the circuitry only, some manufacturers sell separate test kits to help the consumer test the CO sensor inside the alarm.

10. What is the role of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in preventing CO poisoning?

CPSC worked closely with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to help develop the safety standard (UL 2034) for CO detectors/alarms. CPSC helps promote carbon monoxide safety awareness to raise awareness of CO hazards and the need for regular maintenance of fuel-burning appliances. CPSC recommends that every home have a CO detector/alarm that meets the requirements of the most recent UL standard 2034 or the IAS 6-96 standard in the hallway near every separate sleeping area. CPSC also works with industry to develop voluntary and mandatory standards for fuel-burning appliances.

11. Do some cities require that CO detectors/alarms be installed?

On September 15, 1993, Chicago, Illinois became one of the first cities in the nation to adopt an ordinance requiring, effective October 1, 1994, the installation of CO detectors/alarms in all new single-family homes and in existing single-family residences that have new oil or gas furnaces. Several other cities also require CO detectors/alarms in apartment buildings and single-family dwellings.

12. Should CO detectors/alarms be used in motor homes and other recreational vehicles?

CO detectors/alarms are available for boats and recreational vehicles and should be used. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association requires CO detectors/alarms in motor homes and in towable recreational vehicles that have a generator or are prepped for a generator.

Some of the above information has been provided with the kind permission of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Document #466 (

Last Editorial Review: 11/25/2002