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Downtown apartments evacuated due to high carbon-monoxide readings

The Boston Fire Department reports it evacuated the 27 apartments at 6 Hamilton Pl., the alley that leads to the Orpheum off Tremont Street, early Sunday morning because of high carbon-monoxide readings. No residents were reported ill.




And they work!

If you don't have them and don't have an "all electric" home, get one.

Not too many years ago this would have been a tragedy.

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since they stop working properly after about 10 years. There should be an expiry or manufacture date on the back.

(I think some of the newer ones will beep at you when they reach end-of-life, but don't rely on it!)

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Oh you can count on them beeping when they expire right at 3am not a moment earlier.

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We had a bunch smoke detectors start failing and pass their use by date recently. So we bought a multipack of the combo fire/co ones and replaced all of them. We had a couple left that we gave away - was still cheaper than buying them individually.

Not that they are all that expensive ... not compared to what can happen if you don't have them.

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I believe they contain radioactive elements and therefore should not be thrown in the trash. What is the right way to dispose of them?

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Smoke detectors come in several variants. The traditional "ionization" kind contains a small sample of americium, a radioactive element, which is used to ionize the air inside a small chamber. If smoke particles enter the chamber, they block the tiny electrical current that normally flows across the chamber.

The amount of radioactive material in an ionizing smoke detector is small enough that in most areas you're instructed to just trash it.

(There's another type, photoelectric, which shines a light across the chamber instead and checks if any light is scattered. And there are also combination detectors, which can detect both large and smoldering fires.)

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The amount of radioactive material isn't enough to matter, at least according to our city/town trash folks.

I'm not sure if communities differ on this. Best thing is to contact your city/town for information.

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I had one that I bought on Amazon that had an 8 year warranty. I wrote the details on the back with a sharpie, thinking that it might kick off sooner and then I would remember to file a claim to get a free one. Sure enough, 8 years and 3 months later, it started beeping every minute or so and had to be replaced.

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They don't always work right. I had an almost-new, famous-brand dual detector (fire and carbon monoxide) that had been installed by a licensed electrician just weeks earlier. It started sounding the carbon monoxide alarm one day, a recorded voice warning me to get out fast.

I couldn't figure out where carbon monoxide could be coming from -- there are steam radiators, the closest natural gas source is six stories down for the basement furnace (no gas in the building above that), no generators or equipment here, I wasn't even using an electric appliance. But I got out fast and called the Boston Fire Department from the street.

They showed up promptly, quite happy to test their brand-new hand-held carbon monoxide detector. They went everywhere in my apartment, even into the closets, and found not a trace of the gas. They also said they couldn't see where it could even come from -- no potential sources here, just as I thought.

I had the alarm replaced the next day. Unfortunately the same famous brand and model (the electrician said "they're considered the best"). So no, the alarms don't always work right.

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Didn't work.

But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't have them in your home.

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Of course.

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