Imagine going to sleep one night and never waking up again. You felt fine before bedtime; no headache; chest pain; nothing. You just went to sleep dreaming of the day ahead but sometime during the night, the carbon monoxide levels in your bedroom spiked to the point that rendered you unconscious and then killed you without you ever realizing there was a problem in the first place. That is how carbon monoxide poison works.
Not one of us would imagine living in a home that didn’t have working fire detectors installed, but there is a silent killer out there that will not give you a warning of fire (sight) and smoke(smell): carbon monoxide. Carbon Monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas that is a byproduct of several appliances in our homes, including furnaces, hot water heaters, and gas stoves. Many states in the U.S. have made the installation of CO detectors mandatory in new home construction and even in some rental properties. Studies have shown that up to 60% of Americans could not identify what a CO detector even looks like, which is alarming to someone in my business. In this article, I will discuss the different types of carbon monoxide detectors, what to look for when purchasing, and how a CO detector can be a vital component of a home security system.
CO detectors can be stand-alone and powered by battery or plugged into an AC socket. Most CO detectors these days are in a single unit combined with a smoke detector. They operate much like a smoke detector in that they continuously monitor the air in a house or room, and if the sensor detects a dangerous level of CO then an audible alarm sounds alerting anyone in the house. When connected to a home alarm system, the CO detector will alert the home’s owner and the proper authorities (fire department). This is a great advantage because if you are absent from the home for an extended period, walking into a house that has extreme levels of CO, even for a short period, can have harsh health effects and even cause death.
Approximately 200 people in the U.S. die each year because of acute carbon monoxide poisoning, and another 4,000 or so are sent to the emergency room for treatment. It is our hope that through education of the installation and maintenance of carbon monoxide detectors that this number is lowered dramatically. The cost of even the simplest detector is around $30 and can range upwards of $100. If you cannot afford a carbon monoxide detector, many local agencies and charities will give you one free of charge. Many of these organizations also give you a free education about how to install, use and maintain a CO detector. It is vital that you utilize any information that is available to you to protect yourself and your loved ones.
There are different types of CO detectors, although most of today’s new detectors are digital. A good digital CO detector will regularly monitor and measure the CO level in your home and display a number that reflects the parts per million (PPM). PPM is the number of CO molecules per million air molecules. The safe level for 24-hour exposure is 6 ppm and goes up as the exposure length decreases. For example, it is not recommended that you are exposed to a CO level of 87 ppm for any longer than 15 minutes. Exceeding these limits can cause bodily harm such as a headache, nausea, fatigue, delirium, and hallucinations. Even brief periods of time being exposed to CO at an extremely high level can cause you to be rendered unconscious and cause death. Carbon monoxide poisoning has been deemed the “silent killer” because you will not know what is happening unless you have installed a working detector.
Home security systems can be linked to carbon monoxide detectors to alert the authorities should you either not be at home or if for some reason, you are not able to hear the alarm. A good security system can alert you on your cell phone or mobile device of a rise in CO inside your home and give you a detailed report of any spikes that are occurring. Protecting your home physically and protecting its inhabitants is what we in the home security field call total protection. Don’t let you or your loved ones fall victim to this silent killer. There is no greater way to show your family that you love them by protecting them with the latest that technology has to offer. We should all make it a point to ensure that not one person dies from carbon monoxide poisoning.