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State's CO detector law to take effect in Feb.
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MONROE - Wisconsin's new carbon monoxide (CO) law goes into effect Feb. 1.

All single family and two-unit homes - new and existing - must install a CO alarm on every floor level, including the basement, near sleeping areas.

Josse Allen, Monroe Fire Department Division Chief and employee safety director for the City of Monroe, said the gas is "almost undetectable by humans."

"By the time you realize it, it's too late," he said.

CO poisoning is difficult to detect, because its symptoms resemble common flu symptoms, Allen added.

The gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless, Allen said, and produces symptoms of flushed checks, nausea and headaches.

"Infants, the elderly and people with health problems are more susceptible," he added. Carbon monoxide is a gas created by incomplete burning of fuels, such as coal, wood, and petroleum. Carbon monoxide alarms warn of the gas before it reaches dangerous levels.

New construction must be hard-wired with a battery back-up. Existing homes, regardless of age, may have installed any type of CO alarms: battery, plug-in, or combination smoke/CO devices.

A carbon monoxide detector required under the new law must have an Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. listing mark.

Alarms should be installed in accordance with directions from manufacturer. CO alarms are only required in new and existing homes that have any fuel burning appliance, which includes: stoves, ovens, grills, clothes dryers, furnaces, boilers, water heaters, fireplaces and heaters, or an attached garage.

Electric appliances are not sources of carbon monoxide.

Alarms do not need to be installed in the attic, garage or storage area of homes.

Authorized inspectors may enter dwellings to inspect alarms when requested by owner or occupants.

Maintenance of the alarms include monthly testing; check batteries and replacing twice a year; and replacing alarms according to manufacturer instructions. Alarms should never be disconnected or unplugged.

Batteries should never be removed for other uses. Buildings with more than two residential units also need CO alarms. Rules for multi-family dwellings and other public buildings are in the Wis. Commercial Building Code, Comm 61-66.