A survey of residential carbon monoxide detector utilization among Connecticut Emergency Department patients.
The use of carbon monoxide detectors may prevent deaths due to unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. Currently, there is limited data regarding the characteristics of residential carbon monoxide detector use. To determine the characteristics of residential carbon monoxide detector use. A survey was administered to a convenience, cross-sectional sample of Emergency Department patients between June and August 2011. Inclusion criteria included patients who were older than 18 years, able to understand written or spoken English or Spanish, and lived in independent residential settings. Survey questions assessed the presence or absence of carbon monoxide and smoke detectors within the participant's home, the frequency of regular battery changes for both devices, location of carbon monoxide detectors within the home, and reasons for not installing carbon monoxide detectors (if applicable). Correlations between racial background, geographical area of residence (urban versus suburban), and income were also assessed. A total of 1030 patients were surveyed. While 97.8% of respondents reported smoke detector use, only 44.4% had home carbon monoxide detectors installed. Only 17.2% had carbon monoxide detectors installed in or near their sleeping area, the correct location for detector placement. Carbon monoxide detector usage was found to be lowest among households earning less than $25,999 per year (27.3% reported having detectors), non-Caucasians (only 42.0% of African-Americans and 24.7% of Hispanics surveyed reported using detectors compared with 57.8% of Caucasians), renters, and urban residents. Reasons given for not having a carbon monoxide detector varied; many answers were consistent with a lack of awareness of the importance of using carbon monoxide detectors. Residential carbon monoxide detectors were underutilized compared to smoke detectors. Increased public education, especially for minorities and lower income populations, is necessary regarding the use of carbon monoxide detectors for poisoning prevention.