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Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors

Carbon Monoxide Detector
New Kent County Residents are eligible for a FREE CO detector from New Kent Fire Rescue!  For more information, please contact our  Fire Marshal's Office at (804) 966-9618 | Ext. #1

Often called the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

Facts & figures

  • In 2005, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 61,100 non-fire CO incidents in which carbon monoxide was found, or an average of seven such calls per hour. The number of incidents increased 18 percent from 51,700 incidents reported in 2003. This increase is most likely due to the increased use of CO detectors, which alert people to the presence of CO.
Source: "Non-Fire Carbon Monoxide Incidents Reported in 2005" by Jennifer Flynn, June 2007, National Fire Protection Association (NFPF)

Symptoms of CO poisoning

Carbon monoxide enters the body through breathing. CO poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning, and other illnesses. Some symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, light headedness, or headaches. High levels of CO can be fatal, causing death within minutes.

The concentration of CO, measured in parts per million (ppm) is a determining factor in the symptoms for an average, healthy adult.

  • 50 ppm: No adverse effects with eight hours of exposure.
  • 200 ppm: Mild headache after two to three hours of exposure.
  • 400 ppm: Headache and nausea after one to two hours of exposure.
  • 800 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 45 minutes; collapse and unconsciousness after one hour of exposure.
  • 1,000 ppm: Loss of consciousness after one hour of exposure.
  • 1,600 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 20 minutes of exposure.
  • 3,200 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 5-10 minutes; collapse and unconsciousness after 30 minutes of exposure.
  • 6,400 ppm: Headache and dizziness after one to two minutes; unconsciousness and danger of death after 10-15 minutes of exposure.
  • 12,800 ppm: Immediate physiological effects, unconsciousness and danger of death after one to three minutes of exposure.
Source: NFPA's Fire Protection Handbook, 20th Edition.