Survey: More Than One-Third of Nebraskans Dont Have Adequate Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Their Homes

Although carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable, it still kills hundreds of Americans each year. Each year, the CDC says at least 430 people in the United States die from carbon monoxide. And another approximately 50,000 go to the emergency department because of exposure.

As heating season begins, the likelihood of carbon monoxide rises. So, we conducted a Google Survey in August 2020 to learn more about how Nebraska residents protect themselves from carbon monoxide. We surveyed 100 male and female Nebraskans, ages 18-65+.

What Our Survey Revealed

While the Nebraskans we surveyed understand carbon monoxide is a deadly gas, many didn’t have enough carbon monoxide detectors in their home or test them frequently enough.

35% Only Have One Carbon Monoxide Detector

Of those surveyed, 60% said they own their home and use a gas furnace to heat it. The 40% who rent said they relied on another source of heat.

Although not everyone we surveyed has a gas furnace, the majority knew what carbon monoxide is. They described it as a “poison gas,” “deadly gas” or “bad gas.”

A furnace’s combustion process is what creates carbon monoxide. When a furnace is working properly, the gas is contained within the heat exchanger and safely vented outside via flue pipes. If the heat exchanger is cracked or flue pipes are blocked, the gas can spill back into your home.

You might think that this problem won’t happen to you. But 4% of the Nebraskans we surveyed said they’ve had a carbon monoxide problem in their home.

What makes this gas so dangerous if the fact there’s no carbon monoxide smell. And you can’t see it, so the only way to know it’s there is with a detector.

Of the Nebraskans we surveyed, 96% said they have a carbon monoxide detector in their home. But more than one-third of them don’t have enough of them.

Here’s what our survey found:

  • One detector—35%
  • Two detectors—38%
  • Three detectors—16%
  • Four or more detectors—5%

The Frazier Company recommends having at least one detector on each floor. You’ll want to have one outside bedrooms, as well as in your basement. When you’re doing carbon monoxide detector placement, the EPA recommends installing them at least 5 feet above the floor, or on the ceiling.

You may be wondering, is carbon monoxide heavier than air? A common misconception is that carbon monoxide stays close to the ground, but it’s slightly lighter than air. And the EPA says it often gets swept up with warm, rising air.

If carbon monoxide builds up your home, you could experience flu-like symptoms, like headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. Prolonged exposure to heavy concentrations can be fatal. That’s why it’s so important to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, in case you mistake signs of carbon monoxide poisoning for another illness.

Plug-In and Battery-Powered Detectors Are Most Popular

There are a lot of different types of carbon monoxide detectors to choose from. We allowed multiple answers for this question, but of the Nebraskans we surveyed:

  • 37% use a plug-in carbon monoxide detector
  • 42% have a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector
  • 19% use a combined smoke and carbon monoxide detector
  • 2% use a smart carbon monoxide detector, like the Google Nest Protect
  • 7% didn’t know what kind they have

Although using a battery-powered or plug-in carbon monoxide detector is most popular, smart carbon monoxide detectors are starting to become the best carbon monoxide detector to protect your home.

While they’re generally more expensive, they offer many convenient features for monitoring your home, like smoke detection and compatibility with other smart home devices.

Here are a few other benefits to choosing one:

  • There aren’t any jarring beeps, since it will let you know there’s an issue with a voice or phone notification.
  • You won’t have to guess where the problem is, because your detector will tell you where it is, like your basement.
  • You can mute it with a quick tap of your phone.
  • There won’t be any annoying chirps in the middle of the night because the detector tests its sensors and batteries on its own. Then, it warns you through phone alerts.

Monthly? Yearly? 70% Don’t Test Their Detectors Frequently Enough

If you’re not using a smart detector, it’s important to regularly test it and replace its batteries.

Of the Nebraskans we surveyed:

  • 21% test monthly, as recommended by manufacturers
  • 32% test every six months
  • 25% test every year
  • 13% have never tested it

Carbon Monoxide Detectors Expire, but 40% Didn’t Know That

Like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors need to be replaced regularly. It depends on what kind you use, but most last for 5–7 years. Smart detectors can last up to 10 years.

Of the people we surveyed, 37% said they didn’t know their detector expires. Most detectors will let you know they’re nearing the end of their life span with five beeps every minute or so.

Google It? 22% Unsure What to Do if Carbon Monoxide Detector Sounds

Every minute counts when carbon monoxide builds up in an enclosed space like your home. When your detector senses dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, it will alert you through a series of four loud beeps. You should leave your home immediately for fresh air and call 911.

But not everyone we surveyed knew exactly what to do. Of the Nebraskans we surveyed:

  • 64%—leave home immediately and call 911
  • 22%—Google it because they had no idea what to do, or would unplug it

The rest of respondents said they would open windows, evacuate and call first responders.

Sometimes detectors will beep when they need batteries or are wearing out. If you’re hearing a chirp about every minute, try replacing the batteries. Most manufacturers recommend replacing them every month in battery-powered models. Or every six months if they’re hardwired or plugged into a wall.

The safety, health and comfort of your family is always our top priority at The Frazier Company. Heating and cooling isn’t just our job, it’s our passion. If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector or want to upgrade to a smart model, our professionals can help. We’ve been providing expert HVAC service in Omaha since 1929 and would love to assist you. Contact us at 402-628-0206 for fast, friendly service today.

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