We’ve all heard the warnings, carbon monoxide can kill you.  The odorless, colorless gas that can kill, it’s a terrible thing that we’ve basically become desensitized to this warning.  Just because we’ve heard it too many times before doesn’t mean we aren’t still at risk.  Who here remembers the last time they replaced their carbon monoxide detector, let alone the batteries.  We hear that loud, annoying beep that is intended to remind us to replace the almost dead batteries, what do you do?  Do you replace the batteries or do you just turn it off?  Majority of people turn it off.  That, unfortunately, is not the right solution.  Now if there is a gas leak in your home, there is no way to know and you could become one of the many that die each year from Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 400+ die from poisoning, 4,000 are hospitalized and 20,000 visit the emergency room.  Those are scary numbers, especially when this is a problem that is, in most cases, totally avoidable.  I don’t know about you, but I think replacing the batteries twice a year is much more hassle free than visiting the ER, paying astronomical hospital bills, or planning a funeral.

First, let’s go over when to replace the system, where to place it and the the difference between a monitor and a detector.  Then, just in case, we’ll go over the symptoms so you know what to keep an eye out for.

Two times a year, we make a trip around the house to change the time on our clocks, that is the perfect time to also change our batteries.  Even if they aren’t quite out of juice yet, it’s better to be safe than sorry.  It is also important to replace the whole system approximately every 5 years.  Sounds taxing, but I promise you, it is worth the effort.  Now, where should these systems go?  UP HIGH.  Carbon Monoxide is a light gas, not very dense, to give you an idea, carbon dioxide is 1.98 kg/m³, O2 gas is 1.331 kg/m³ and carbon monoxide is 1.14 kg/m³, so it will just rise, rise, rise.  Therefore, if you had a detector on your floorboards, it’d be about as good as not having one at all.  Ceilings are ideal.  Now, it is important to have one on each floor of the house, including the basement, and one near or in the attached garage.  It is also important to have them 10 feet from bedroom doors.  Pay special attention to that point because you don’t experience the symptoms when you’re asleep, so if there is carbon monoxide leaking, you have to be sure the alarm will wake you.  (Side note: and I do not recommend this, but IF you don’t want a house full of detectors/monitors, then make sure you have them at least outside of the bedroom because of the previous point mentioned, ok, that’s all.)

So I keep saying systems because there is a difference between detectors and monitors.  Detectors are like this, “POISON, POISON. LOTS OF POISON.” Louder, but more affordable, just as effective at saving your life, they only detect when levels get too high, but nothing else.  The average detector goes for around $15-$25.  The monitors alert you if there are ANY levels of carbon monoxide.  It can also be linked with an alert system, which would be able to link to perhaps your thermostat and even call 911 if the situation requires it.  These monitoring systems obviously have more benefits, which is reflected in the price, the most minimal monitoring system comes in at around $40 but there are options that are well over a few hundred dollars.

Just in case you don’t currently have a working system, or you’re concerned it isn’t working properly, or you simply just want to know, we will go over some symptoms.  Carbon monoxide symptoms are described as “flu-like” and include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion


Carbon monoxide is not a joke, it is not a cliche and it is something that can effect literally anyone.  I hope this read raised some awareness to the issue and that it’ll get you to think twice abut just removing the batteries.