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How to protect your family from the “Silent Killer”

(NC) – While November gets attention for Remembrance Day and for being the month we change our clocks back (in much of Canada), it is also marks the time of year when most home heating systems get pressed back into service. That brings the increased threat of carbon monoxide in our homes – and the need for carbon monoxide alarms to keep families safe.

While smoke alarms have had more than 25 years to become part of any safe home, CO alarms are still a relatively new entry. Here are some tips to help arm yourself against this deadly gas, dubbed the “Silent Killer” because you cannot see, smell or taste it.

- Carbon monoxide gas has almost the same density as air. That means it mixes freely with it, rather than rising above it (like hot air) or falling below it (like cold air).

Since CO mixes with air, that means that a CO alarm can be installed anywhere: on the ceiling alone or as a combination smoke/CO alarm (battery powered or hardwired); down near floor-level (plug-in); or on a bookcase or shelf (battery power only)

- If you choose a plug-in or hardwired model, be sure it also has a battery backup. A power outage is not time to be unprotected.

- Symptoms of CO exposure include feelings similar to the flu, without the fever. Another telltale sign that you may have CO in your home: You feel lethargic, nauseous and achy at home but quickly feel better when you go out. Then, when you return, the flu-like symptoms return.

- Two of today's most popular CO alarm choices are: models that have battery backup and continuous (not push-button) digital displays that show you if low levels of the gas are present, allowing you to take corrective action before an emergency can happen, and; CO alarms that have sealed lithium batteries that last 10 years from activation. These “worry-free” alarms never need to be changed for the 10-year life of the device.

One more advantage to replacing aging CO alarms? New models feature a built-in “end of life” signal that tells you when 10 years are up and it is time to replace the entire unit.

“When you do the math, a homeowner can save about $40 during the 10-year lifespan of their alarm by switching to a worry-free model with a sealed lithium battery,” says Carol Heller, a home safety expert with alarm manufacturer Kidde Canada. “And since most homes have at least two smoke alarms and one CO alarm, the savings can really add up. On top of that, the freedom of never having to change batteries again is a real hit with homeowners.”


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