Working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are crucial safety devices every home should have. While it is important to have them in your home, it is also important to make sure they are installed properly. If these devices are not properly placed in your home, their effectiveness in alerting you to a problem can be impacted.

A recent posting on Facebook from the Hermantown Fire Department points out how important locations for these devices is in being effective warning devices when it comes to fire or carbon monoxide dangers in your home. Most people are used to seeing smoke detectors placed high on a wall or mounted on the ceiling, which is proper placement. Smoke rises, so having a smoke detector placed toward the top of a room is the best place to have one of these devices. As the Hermantown Fire Department points out, carbon monoxide detectors need to be in a different place in order to be most effective.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain that the most important way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is to have properly installed detectors with working batteries. Common sources for carbon monoxide include heating systems, gas appliances, fireplaces, vehicles or other gas-powered engines like generators, and charcoal or gas grills/cooking devices. These threats extend beyond the home to shops/garages and fish houses where devices like this may be used. Proper installation, usage, and ventilation of these devices as well as regular inspection are important to preventing carbon monoxide poisoning, but these steps alone should not replace the use of a carbon monoxide detector.

When installing a carbon monoxide detector, these devices should be installed lower in a room, near the floor, in order to be most effective. This is because carbon monoxide is heavier than most of the other gasses in air, and sinks, collecting from the ground upward in an enclosed space.

When it comes to carbon monoxide detectors, the National Fire Protection Association offers a number of great tips on how to select, install, and properly use detectors. Beside proper installation, one of the key tips is to make sure to test your detector at least once a month and to regularly replace the device according to manufacturer guidelines. This is true for both carbon monoxide and smoke detectors; they need to be replaced periodically.

Legal statutes exist in both Minnesota and Wisconsin regarding carbon monoxide usage. In general terms, both laws require these devices in single family or multi-family living complexes built after a certain date. While each state's legal lingo is a little different, the core thing to know is that they are highly recommended particularly in places where people would traditionally sleep. Having these devices installed in or near bedrooms or in sleeper fish houses, for example, is recommended. You can learn more of the specifics of the law for each state by visiting the statute page for Minnesota or Wisconsin.