The Carbon Monoxide Talk: Educating Kids on CO Poisoning Dangers

Spread the love

The other day as I was heading out the door to run some errands, I grabbed my boots and glanced at the carbon monoxide detector plugged into the wall. I made a mental note to test it later that evening. But suddenly, a worrying thought hit me – do my kids actually know what carbon monoxide is and what to do if the alarm sounds?

This unsettling realization stopped me in my tracks. As safety-conscious parents, we had checked the smoke detectors regularly and done fire drills with our children. But it dawned on me that we had never explained the purpose of the CO detector or given clear instructions about responding to a carbon monoxide emergency. This was an important teachable moment that I couldn’t let slip by.

So I called my sons over and asked, “Do you know what this device is on the wall?” while pointing at the CO detector.

“No, what is it?” they responded, puzzled.

My heart sank as I realized they had no idea what it was or why it was important.

“It’s a carbon monoxide detector,” I explained. “Carbon monoxide is an extremely dangerous gas that is odorless, colorless and poisonous. If you breathe too much of it, it can make you pass out or even die.”

I could see the alarm growing on their faces as I continued.

“This detector sounds an alarm if there is too much carbon monoxide in the air. So if you EVER hear it beeping, you need to get out of the house immediately and call for help.”

My eldest son asked, “Does it sound like the smoke detector when it goes off?”

“Yes, it makes a very similar loud beeping,” I replied. To drive home the point, I pressed the test button so they could hear the sharp alarm firsthand.

“But why would there be carbon monoxide in the house anyway?” my younger son questioned.

I explained, “The gas can build up from our furnace, hot water heater, or any fuels we burn like gas, oil or wood. But you can’t see it or smell it at all. That’s why this detector is so important to alert us to dangerous levels.”

I reiterated firmly, “So if you EVER hear this carbon monoxide alarm, you need to get outside right away and call 911!”

My eldest asked, “Can I take the dog with me if the alarm goes off?”

I understood his concern but knew seconds could mean the difference between life and death. “No, just get outside immediately – don’t stop for anything. The dog will be able to get out too.”

“What if I just hold my breath while I run to grab the dog?” he countered.

“I know you want to help the dog, but you must get out first and not waste any time. Every second counts!” I said. I made a mental note that we needed to run some family drills to practice responding to a CO incident properly.

This conversation was a wake-up call about an overlooked danger. We had smoke detectors covered but clearly needed to educate our kids about carbon monoxide risks as well.

After some reflection, I realized there are combination smoke and CO detectors available with voice alerts that explicitly warn if smoke or CO is detected. Upgrading to those more informative alarms is now on my to-do list.

In the meantime, if you have young children and a standard CO detector, I strongly advise having a conversation to ensure they understand what it is, when to be concerned, and how to respond. Going over CO dangers just once is unlikely to stick. That’s why practicing emergency drills as a family is so essential.

Staying safe from invisible carbon monoxide starts with education. Don’t make the same mistake I almost did – be proactive in talking to your kids about this silent hazard. Their lives could depend on it.

Recent Posts