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Why You Need a Carbon Monoxide Detector in Your HomeJanuary 20th, 2023 by
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be deadly if it accumulates in your home. Exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to headaches, nausea, confusion, and even death. Having a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home is essential for keeping your family safe from this silent killer. Here are the basics of what it is and why you need a carbon monoxide alarm in your home. Plus, we explain the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and cover how often you should test your alarm.
What Is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and toxic gas that is produced by burning fuels such as natural gas, propane, oil, wood, and coal. Often called the “silent killer”, it is a highly toxic gas that can cause serious health problems and even death if inhaled in high concentrations.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a byproduct of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. It is commonly produced by vehicles, gasoline engines, and combustion appliances such as home heating systems, portable generators, and stoves. Even though it is a byproduct of burning, it can still be produced by other means, such as the slow corrosion of heating and cooling systems or any other appliances that use gas or oil.
What Are the Main Sources of CO Gas?
Within your home, the most common sources of carbon monoxide are fuel-burning appliances and equipment. This includes furnaces, water heaters, stoves, fireplaces, and wood stoves. Other sources include unvented space heaters, gas ranges and ovens, gas dryers, charcoal grills, and gasoline-powered tools. It can also enter your home from an attached garage if a car is left running with the garage door closed.
Why Is Carbon Monoxide Dangerous?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is dangerous because it is a toxic gas that interferes with the body’s ability to transport oxygen. The gas is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, making it difficult to detect.
Once inhaled, CO enters the bloodstream and attaches to hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in the blood. This process prevents the blood from carrying oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs, leading to a lack of oxygen supply and leading to serious health problems and even death.
Exposure to high levels of CO can cause symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and confusion. Prolonged exposure to high levels of CO can lead to loss of consciousness and can be fatal, particularly in large concentrations or over an extended period of time. Long-term low-level exposure can also cause neurological symptoms and heart problems.
Also, CO is especially dangerous because the symptoms it causes are similar to flu and cold symptoms, so it can be hard to tell if one is being exposed to the gas. This makes it all the more important to have CO detectors in the house, as well as to ensure appliances that burn fuel are properly ventilated.
What Are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can vary depending on the concentration of the gas and the length of exposure. Some of the common symptoms of CO poisoning include:
- Headaches: A headache is often the first symptom of mild CO poisoning.
- Dizziness: People exposed to CO may feel dizzy or lightheaded.
- Nausea: Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of CO poisoning.
- Fatigue: Exposure to CO can cause fatigue and weakness.
- Shortness of breath: CO interferes with the body’s ability to transport oxygen, which can cause shortness of breath.
- Chest pain: Some people may experience chest pain or tightness in the chest.
- Confusion and disorientation: High levels of CO can cause confusion, disorientation, and even loss of consciousness.
- Flu-like symptoms: People exposed to CO may also experience symptoms that resemble the flu, such as a fever, nausea, and headache.
- Unconsciousness and death: Very high levels of exposure or prolonged exposure to CO can lead to unconsciousness and death.
It’s important to note that symptoms of CO poisoning can be similar to the flu or a cold. Pay attention to the duration of your symptoms, as well as other factors, such as the presence of a gas appliance or a running car in a closed space. If you suspect you or someone you know may have CO poisoning, seek fresh air and medical attention immediately.
What Is a Carbon Monoxide Detector?
A CO detector is an electronic device that detects the levels of carbon monoxide gas in the air. Carbon monoxide alarms typically use one of two types of sensors: electrochemical or metal oxide semiconductor (MOS).
Electrochemical sensors measure the amount of carbon monoxide in the air by measuring a chemical reaction that occurs when CO is present. MOS sensors measure changes in the electrical conductivity of the air caused by the presence of CO gas.
Carbon monoxide detectors are usually battery-operated or plug-in devices that are designed to be placed in a central location in the home, such as a hallway or near a bedroom, where they can easily detect CO levels throughout the entire house. They are also loud and have an audible alarm that will sound when CO is detected at dangerous levels.
Having a CO alarm in the house is an important safety measure, as CO exposure can cause flu-like symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and confusion and can lead to death in severe cases.
While battery models are available, carbon monoxide detectors that plug into the wall offer better protection. If your unit uses batteries, replace them every six months. Also, detectors only last so long, so read the manufacturers instructions and replace the unit when necessary.
Where Should You Place Carbon Monoxide Alarms in Your House?
Carbon monoxide detectors are an essential safety device for any home. Having alarms installed throughout your home can help alert you to dangerous levels of this gas before it becomes a serious health hazard.
It is important to install CO alarms on every level of your house. This way, every family member will hear the alarm in case of an emergency. Install an alarm outside each sleeping area.
Additionally, you should put one in any room that has fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, water heaters, stoves, fireplaces, or wood-burning stoves. This will help ensure that any leaks from these appliances are detected quickly and addressed before they become a danger to your family’s health.
How Often Should You Test Your CO Alarm?
Testing your carbon monoxide detector is an important part of keeping your home safe. You should test your CO alarms monthly to keep them working properly. To test the alarm, press and hold the test button on the device. The detector should sound 4 beeps, a pause, then 4 beeps for 5-6 seconds. If it does not sound this way, refer to the user manual for your specific model for further instructions.
If the alarm does not test properly, there are several steps you can take to try and fix it. First, install fresh batteries and make sure they are installed correctly. Then check that the alarm is clean and dust-free before testing again. If it still does not work properly after these steps, replace the CO detector immediately with a new one. This will help keep you and your family safe from potential carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.