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Carbon Monoxide Detector for Travel

I've rented a VRBO for a couple weeks. Apparently, a carbon monoxide detector is not required, and then I realized that I've likely stayed in places in Europe without CO detectors. I'd like to buy a detector for travel. Even though I'd use it for Europe, as well, thus needing an adapter, I think I'd want a plug in instead of having to rely on good batteries. I'd want something small, and I think its one of those items easily left behind, and most seem to be white, so I probably put some red masking tape on it, unless I get a better idea. This is one option I'm looking at:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00M48BH30?tag=symfonycamp-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1

Posted by
4660 posts

Does the place you are staying actually need a CO detector (note: carbon monoxide is CO, not CO2)? If the place doesn’t have any fuel-burning appliances or furnaces, then it would not be necessary.

If your rental has an electic range, electic water heater, electric heater, etc., there would not be a CO risk. You could ask the owner first.

Posted by
6544 posts

jules m, apartments usually don't have to meet hotel safety standards.

Posted by
4211 posts

Laura, both points, good. I think the range is gas, but worth checking. I think going forward I would like to travel with a detector. There have been a few incidents now of travelers being found dead in their rental due to CO. We had carbon monoxide poisoning years ago, sure wouldn't want to risk that again.

Stan, I'm sure you are correct.

Posted by
1117 posts

In which country and in what kind of a home (what kind of heating) are you going to be staying?

Most carbon monoxide deaths in Germany are caused by people using a charcoal barbecue indoors. In other words: by their own stupidity. The other major cause of death by carbon monoxide is suicide. No detector will prevent that.

We have a thorough mandatory annual inspection of all heating appliances and furnaces. In all countries that have that, I would feel quite safe.

I've never seen any plug in devices, but maybe there are some out there. The choice I saw was having a sealed device that you basically throw away after ten years, or a device where you can change the batteries.

apartments usually don't have to meet hotel safety standards

I am not aware that carbon monoxide detectors are required by any European hotel safety standards. Why would they, as long as you have no gas fueled devices or open furnaces anywhere near your room?

Posted by
4211 posts

We have both plug in and hard wired CO detectors in our home. This current trip is to Kauai.

Carbon monoxide poisoning among tourists is not common, but its happened occasionally. Here is one:

https://abcnews.go.com/US/bodies-american-family-killed-gas-poisoning-mexico-coming/story?id=54001040

Maybe we are more in tune to carbon monoxide poisoning in Minnesota where there are usually deaths every year from carbon monoxide; however, they have been dropping due to building codes that require the detectors located by bedrooms.

Many years ago when we lived in a apartment, my husband and I were very lucky to have not died from carbon monoxide poisoning. The problem was with a neighbor in our building using a fireplace that was improperly vented. Common, no, but not impossible.

I'm not trying to alarm anyone nor am I trying to promote detectors. I don't care what anyone else does. I just was hoping someone had some experience with a travel device. We travel a lot, it just seemed like an easy and inexpensive safety measure.

Posted by
1117 posts

We travel a lot, it just seemed like an easy and inexpensive safety
measure.

I totally get what you mean. I got one when we were traveling with a rented RV, sleeping with two gas containers right under our bed.

they have been dropping due to building codes that require the
detectors located by bedrooms.

That's why I asked which country. Building codes are an essential question, and looking at that tragic story in your link, I am not sure I'd trust Mexico for that. Here, they have gone a different path than apparently in the US: not make detectors mandatory but make sure the devices are safe. That has made the numbers drop, and as mentioned above, most of the remaining ones are either those that did it purposely or those that were applying for the Darwin Awards.

This current trip is to Kauai.

That would seem like a totally safe place to me in terms of CO... Do they even have heating systems on Kauai? And it's always warm enough to keep windows open...

Posted by
4211 posts

It does get cool in Kauai. I'm sure some folks have heat, though I would guess most do not. I probably won't research what every unit I stay in during a year has for heat, stove, water heating or fireplace or what the building codes happen to be. This year I have stayed in hotels, inns, condos, or friends or family for at least 80 days. The trip to Kauai and the fact that we are using VRBO for the first time happened to prompt me to think about CO units. It is not the only place where I might be inclined to use one. I would just keep it with my travel bags, ready to go just like my packed toiletry bag and other items.

When my daughter moved to Honolulu for grad school we had a few people scout apartments for her. Each of them noted without prompting whether a unit had a CO detector. I don't think I'm the only one that thinks about this.

Posted by
5394 posts

Note that plug-in devices with battery backup (Amazon link cited ... ) usually start beeping to indicate that the battery is dead or not present. So why not just use a battery device. It might be smaller. Also, Imperial/Shuco adapter may tilt in a tired old outlet, or not fit behind a bureau. Indeed, many places I've been in Europe have far fewer convenience outlets than the NEC requires in the US today. And the need to provide coffee makers and TVs and USB charging stations demanded by Americans who want to believe they are living as locals (????) fill everything up!

I think there is less danger than you think. I remember recent Lonely Planet Korea editions still warned about under-floor direct flue vent heating, but c'mon. LG appliances dominates Home Depot, and my Chevy Bolt battery is from Korea. (Ooops, the battery has been recalled ... )

Posted by
20872 posts

I suspect CO detectors are not always required in older US buildings (no doubt it varies by city/state), as opposed to new builds. My 280-unit building was built as a rental property in the mid-1960s and converted to condos in the 1970s. Our annual maintenance program has tested smoked detectors, supplied needed replacements and checked our gas ranges for leaks at least yearly for decades. A CO detector was added only within the last few years.

What I believe is standard practice in the US--I don't know about elsewhere--is to add some sort of scent to domestic gas so a leak should be obvious.

Posted by
146 posts

Jules, I love your thought process. I’ve experienced CO poisoning at home before recognizing the need for a detector - building code did not require them for 1991 home construction. Exhaust fan on HVAC unit stopped working. Too may details to cover here.

Whenever I check into a hotel after entering my room I immediately locate the fire exits and walk the fire stairwell. I’ve done it for years, except for at a hotel in Edinburg in 2012 when I simply forgot. Low and behold we had a fire on the third day around 5 AM and I was unprepared. I had to rely on the ‘crowd to get to safety.’ Lots of confusion ensued. Now I’m relentless in taking safety measures, walking the fire exit pathway, and looking for other options. I have not forgotten ever since that happened am I’m not ashamed to do it and gently recommend to fellow travelers.

Back to your question: 1. The specifications on the unit you are considering indicates that it is only 120 volts as opposed to dual voltage. Will it operate simply on battery power! 2. For items that I don’t want to forget I set an alarm or reminder buzzer or even place something critical next to the item I want to draw attention to. Please let us know what you decide. Good luck.

Posted by
4660 posts

Jules, I just wanted to add that I used to have a CO detector similar to the one in your link. I don’t think it would work in a European outlet with an adaptor as it is fairly heavy and needs to be flush against the wall to keep from falling down.

The ones that I have in my house now have 10 year lithium batteries and are smaller and lighter. However, you would not be able to put it in a checked bag.

Posted by
318 posts

I just ordered two of these carbon monoxide detectors two weeks ago when they were on sale on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00M48BH30?ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details&th=1
It is both plug in and battery operated if there is a power failure. I bought adaptors, as well. One is for my husband and me when we travel to Europe and the other is a stocking stuffer for my son and his wife who will be traveling to Portugal in May. They also can take it on family trips within the US. This CO detector does not have lithium batteries which cannot be taken on flights. We have no gas in our home, yet have a CO detector. My husband, a physicist, says that the risk is low with our oil furnace but it is not a zero risk. The CDC states https://www.cdc.gov/co/furnacesafetyfactsheet.html.

Posted by
318 posts

Jules, when using the VRBO site, you can search the "Safety" filter for "CO detectors" and for "Smoke Detectors." If you select them you will see the number of rentals plummet. So, no, many especially in cities such as Paris (older buildings) do not have them. I have noticed that in the Andalusia part of Spain (where we hope to be in 2022) many do have both smoke detectors and CO detectors. The CO detector that I mentioned above is small and easy to pack.

Posted by
103 posts

I don't have any personal knowledge and have not researched these but you got me thinking. A quick search yielded this:

https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/portable-carbon-monoxide-detector/#:~:text=Most%20travel%20carbon%20monoxide%20detectors%20will%20be%20battery,on%20all%20the%20electronics%20you%20end%20up%20packing.code

Also isn't there the same concern in some areas re :smoke detectors? I have seen listing that do not say they have them.

Posted by
4211 posts

Thanks for all the great feedback! Lindy, thanks, I did see the various options for VRBO, couldn't be too picky, however, there weren't a lot of options at this point. As it is, it looks like we may be sleeping in the car one of the nights. ;) I would, however, not sleep anywhere without a smoke detector.

I didn't think about the possible downfalls with using an adapter with the unit, good to know. I get so sick of batteries, like, is it the battery? or is it the remote? or is it the. . . . I didn't even think about the problems with a lithium batteries so thanks!

Posted by
1117 posts

isn't there the same concern in some areas re :smoke detectors?

The legal situation may be different. At least here it is. Smoke detectors are required by law, CO detectors are not.

Posted by
381 posts

Jules,

From what I know, almost no houses/condos in Hawaii have heaters, therefore no CO detectors are needed. When the weather turns unseasonably cold, the TV forecasters call it a "three-blanket night" because that's how people cope - with blankets.

In addition, construction in Hawaii is generally not air-tight as in cold climates. After a windy storm, people need to sweep out the inside of their house because grit comes inside. I think if you research the issue you will not find any danger of CO poisoning in Hawaii.

Your caution is very reasonable for other climates and places, but not for Hawaii.

Posted by
4598 posts

And the need to provide coffee makers and TVs and USB charging stations demanded by Americans who want to believe they are living as locals (????) fill everything up!

You'll find most locals across the world also have such items.

Posted by
4211 posts

Marcia, I'm sure you are right about Hawaii, although my daughter lives in Honolulu in a small studio. When she moved in it had a CO detector and then the landlord decided it was too old and her bed was somewhat close to the gas stove, so he replaced it with a unit he got at a Honolulu Home Depot.

The last time I was in in Honolulu at my daughter's place, I dusted everything because of a recent wind storm. I've spent enough time there to know what the climate is. She literally closes her windows twice a year--when she leaves the place for a couple weeks to visit us.

Folks, I'm not losing sleep on this, I'm not dwelling on it, spending hours on the internet researching this, and it will cost me between $20 to $30 for something that will likely be used for other trips. And there are always a few items I bring on every trip that end up being unnecessary. Last trip to Honolulu was styling mousse, waste of time for that climate.