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The Dangers of a Malfunctioning Carbon Monoxide Alarm

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 20,000 Americans visit the emergency room every year due to unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning not linked to fires. Despite carbon monoxide’s toxicity, the substance is quite prevalent in residential buildings.

To combat this, every home should have a carbon monoxide detector installed to prevent unintentional exposure to this toxic gas. Learn more about the importance of carbon monoxide detectors and what you can do if you suffered carbon monoxide poisoning due to a defective alarm.

Carbon Monoxide: The “Silent Killer”

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is known as the “silent killer” because it is a colorless, odorless gas that is prevalent in many residential and commercial settings. CO is toxic to humans and other animals that use hemoglobin as an oxygen carrier because CO binds to hemoglobin in the blood and inhibits proper oxygen delivery throughout the body, resulting in carbon monoxide poisoning.

Several appliances in the home, particularly those that produce heat, emit CO. Some of the most common appliances that are linked to carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Fireplaces, both gas and wood-burning
  • Furnaces or boilers
  • Gas stoves and ovens
  • Grills
  • Dryers
  • Vehicles

Although the levels of CO emitted by these appliances may be low, the gas can increase to dangerous levels if located in a poorly ventilated area, such as a basement or garage. This is why having a carbon monoxide detector installed in the home is vital.

How Does a Carbon Monoxide Detector Work?

Carbon monoxide detectors sound an alarm when they detect a certain amount of CO in the home’s air. This usually occurs before people in the home start experiencing symptoms from CO exposure. Lower concentrations of CO (around 50ppm) may take hours for the detector to trigger the alarm. Higher concentrations of CO (over 150ppm) may trigger the alarm in minutes.

If an alarm is triggered, those inside the home should vacate the premises and survey everyone’s health for flu-like symptoms, which are a potential indication of carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s important to call 911 so the home can be deemed safe for re-entry.

A Malfunctioning Carbon Monoxide Detector Could Be Fatal

Carbon monoxide detectors save lives. It’s vital they be installed in every residential dwelling. Those who own their home should make sure to install a carbon monoxide detector as soon as possible, if they haven’t already. For those living in apartments or rented properties, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors.

Landlords should install a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of the home. Landlords must also respond to reports of malfunctioning carbon monoxide detectors immediately. The failure to uphold either of these responsibilities may make them liable for any injuries that occur as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Suffered from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning? Contact Us Today

If you or someone you love has suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty or missing carbon monoxide detector, our San Jose personal injury attorneys are here to help. It may be possible to take legal action against the owner of the property where the injury occurred, or against the manufacturer for an inherently defective carbon monoxide detector. We encourage you to call our firm today to learn about your legal options.

Call Caputo and Van Der Walde – Injury & Accident Attorneys at (800) 900-0863 to schedule a free consultation.