DEKRA Recommends CO Detectors for Residential Properties

Carbon Monoxide: The Invisible Danger

Jan 23, 2019

The experts at DEKRA recommend installing carbon monoxide detectors in the home. CO detectors are particularly advisable in enclosed spaces where gas, oil or coal are burned, for example in homes with wood-burning stoves, gas boilers or open fireplaces. Shisha-pipe smokers are also advised to install them.

  • “You can’t see it or smell it”
  • Many major incidents without CO detectors
  • Shisha pipe smokers also need to ensure good ventilation
Highly toxic carbon monoxide (CO) is emitted, for instance, when materials that contain carbon, such as wood, charcoal or gas, are burned without a sufficient supply of oxygen. “You can’t see it or smell it, which is why carbon monoxide is so dangerous to humans,” explains Bernhard Schuhmacher, fire safety expert at DEKRA.
Flu-like symptoms
Poisoning leads to headache, dizziness, nausea and, in extreme cases, death. Its symptoms are constantly mistaken for those of flu. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, 648 people died from the toxic effects of carbon monoxide in 2015. “The major incidents in previous years show the importance of effective protection with CO detectors,” stresses fire safety expert Schuhmacher.
Ensure ventilation when carrying out renovations
CO can stem from defective heating systems, poorly maintained gas boilers, coal-burning stoves or open fireplaces. In gas boilers, inadequate ventilation can also lead to incomplete burning. “Sometimes, in renovation work, the windows are so well sealed that not enough air can get in,” warns the DEKRA expert.
CO is also given off when smoking shisha pipes
Smoking shisha pipes can also be a risk if the pipes are used for an extended period in a poorly ventilated room. Because highly toxic carbon monoxide is released while the shisha charcoal burns, good ventilation should always be ensured.
Grilling without due care
Careless grilling is also a constant source of poisoning, especially in winter. A charcoal grill must not be used in enclosed spaces, and a grill should not be put in the cellar to cool down. “The hot residual coals continue to burn and can continue to give off the toxic gas for several hours,” warns Schuhmacher.
What to do when a CO alarm goes off
CO detectors monitor the carbon monoxide concentration in rooms and trigger an alarm if the threshold is exceeded. Prices range from EUR 20 to EUR 50, and the devices are installed roughly at head height. If a CO alarm goes off, open windows and doors immediately, leave the house and call the fire department.