What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is produced when any carbon fuel (e.g. wood, gasoline, coal, propane, natural gas, heating oil) is used but does not burn completely. Fuel-burning equipment has the potential to emit dangerous levels of this gas, which is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. The pieces of fuel-burning equipment that most commonly cause this include vehicles; fireplaces and woodstoves; non-electric furnaces and water heaters; gas stoves; and charcoal grills.
Carbon Monoxide Dangers
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas. If CO is inhaled, molecules of the gas bind to one’s red blood cells which then pass into the lungs. This process starves the body of oxygen—the CO prevents the blood from carrying oxygen to body tissues, including vital organs like the heart and brain. CO poisoning results in a variety of symptoms; these symptoms depend greatly on one’s level and duration of exposure to the gas, one’s age, and one’s overall health at the time of exposure. CO poisoning causes symptoms that consistently include headaches, dizziness, and nausea, which are often mistaken for flu symptoms; this is a key detail to note because misdiagnosis as flu results in a delay of treatment for the poisoning which can be fatal. When experienced in conjunction with an alert from a CO detector, it is important to consider that these flu-like symptoms might point to CO poisoning. Other symptoms are often present in those with CO poisoning—weakness, vomiting, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and confusion—but not always.
CO poisoning injuries and deaths in homes are most often attributed to the misuse of fuel-burning equipment or malfunction of that equipment. These injuries and deaths can be prevented if regular maintenance of fuel-burning equipment is done, though sometimes they are unavoidable. For example, some injuries and deaths are due to unpredictable causes like a gas leak from a cracked furnace heat exchanger or a malfunctioning water heater, gas build-up due to a blocked chimney, a vehicle left running inside a closed garage, or the release of CO from gas-powered equipment into vents. Toxic exposure to CO gas is always a possibility, so having effective CO detectors is one of the best investments for property owners.
Choosing an Effective CO Detector
Many types of CO detectors and alarms are available, from battery-operated detectors to hardwired detectors that connect to the household electrical current. They can have different sensors as well—battery-operated detectors use a passive type of sensor and cannot usually be monitored, while those hardwired into the electrical current tend to have a solid-state sensor. The safest and most effective CO detectors should conform to the minimum sensitivity characteristics as verified by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL 2034) code. Hardwired CO detectors are considered the best if one has a choice because these CO detectors can be connected to a monitored home security system; this allows for a signal from the system to be sent to the monitoring company when the detector is activated so help can be called right away.
Installing CO detectors
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends the placement of a CO detector on every level of a home, suggesting that each should be installed in a high location for the most effective use. They recommend that a detector be placed at least on any and every floor with bedrooms, to help ensure prompt detection of gas build-up and to allow residents to hear the alarm quickly and easily. Installing quality CO detectors is critical for protection from the dangers of CO.
If you have questions about installing a security alarm system that includes monitored carbon monoxide detectors, reach out to the professionals at Dyezz Surveillance and Access. The competent team based in Farmers Branch, Texas is ready to discuss your need for carbon monoxide detectors and other safety devices. For expert advice, contact Dyezz Surveillance and Access online or by phone at 214-325-5664 for a free consultation and quote.