MERIDIAN -- The shrill beep of a carbon monoxide detector can help your family avoid tragedy.
Carbon monoxide detectors often chirp to alarm homeowners of rising levels of the dangerous gas, then sound an alarm when it builds to dangerous levels.
Unfortunately, many don't understand just who should purchase and install a carbon monoxide detector.
Case in point: Carbon monoxide killed a Pocatello couple and their two sons on Saturday after a water heater malfunctioned. There was no carbon monoxide detector in the home.
The deadly gas also took the life of 18-year-old McQuen Forbush in November 2012. His death was blamed on a broken water heater in a Meridian apartment complex. The carbon monoxide detector there had no batteries.
Firefighters remind everyone that carbon monoxide is often called the "silent killer." The gas is tasteless, odorless, and invisible. That's why specialized detectors are needed to identify it.
Meridian Fire Marshall Perry Palmer says anyone who burns fossil-fuels in or around their home should install a detector.
"Anything that burns gasoline, like an internal combustion engine -- because your garage is attached to the house, if you use propane for heating, or natural gas whether it be your fireplace, your stove, your water heater, you really should have a detector," Palmer told KTVB.
PRICING AND INSTALLATION
Firefighters say you should put one detector on each level of your home, ideally between living spaces and bedrooms, and away from large appliances.
The most important part: keep the device plugged in, or its batteries charged. Also, read the manual and understand the warning noises. There can be a variety.
Do you have a split-level home? What about a nontraditional living space with separate nooks and crannies?
Palmer says the best strategy here is to use more than one carbon monoxide detector, so you can cover everybody who might be inside.
Should you install high or low?
Palmer says the ideal installation height is about four feet off the floor, allowing the device to detect various gas mixtures, like carbon monoxide and propane, fuel oil mixtures, or exhaust from gasoline.
Most detectors we found ranged from $12 to over $200 depending on brands and options.
Meridian firefighters typically hand out devices manufactured by Kidd that cost about $36.
"It's pretty cheap insurance against a deadly killer you can't see," Palmer told KTVB.