Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible and odorless gas that can be deadly if gone undetected. Maybe you’ve heard this warning before. If you live in a home that uses fuel-burning appliances or a fireplace or woodburning stove/furnace, then you are at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Appliances output exhaust that when improperly vented can lead to dangerous CO build-up in the air you breathe. Carbon monoxide or CO detectors are designed to efficiently and quickly sense a spike in CO in your home’s environment making them critical components in a whole home safety plan.
Generally there are two types of CO detection systems:
Most CO detectors that you install yourself are simple battery operated or electrical devices you can simply plug into any A/C outlet. You can find them in hardware stores and larger department stores for $50 or less. The sensing technology varies but you are best advised to buy one that is proven to detect low levels of CO and in the case of an electrical unit also with a battery back-up should the electricity go out.
When a carbon monoxide detector senses a rise in CO it is designed to emit a loud alarm or siren intended to wake you if sleeping. Like smoke alarms you should place CO sensors in or near bedrooms. Most are designed to trigger the presence of CO well before you experience physical symptoms that could overcome your ability to think clearly or evacuate your home.
What if you or a family member is deaf or hearing-impaired? You’ll find quite a number of name brand detectors that come with alternative strobe lights and pillow or bed vibration mechanisms.
If your home is equipped with a built-in security system or you are considering installing one, you may be able to include carbon monoxide monitoring as part of your package. This depends on the products and services offered by the security company, though. If your company provides alarms that monitor your home’s systems, such as heating and cooling and water, it might also cover CO detection.
Monitoring services for home security systems generally charge you a flat monthly fee for their services. When a change in your home’s CO level is detected the alert is transmitted to your company’s monitoring center, 24/7/365 days a year, where simultaneous notifications go out to public safety personnel and to you and your family whether you are at home or away. The cost for systems like this depend upon their level of sophistication and the type of security package and subscription you’ve purchased from a company.
A DIY CO gas detector only functions when you properly install and maintain it. Electrical devices must always be plugged in and battery operated CO monitors must be tested monthly. These devices are designed to be placed on an open shelf or counter, or mounted on a wall or ceiling, all free from obstructions.
Carbon monoxide detection systems that come as part of a home security system should be installed by professional technicians trained to ensure their efficiency.
Don’t take carbon monoxide lightly. For a relatively small investment you can protect yourself and your family from this undetectable and deadly gas.
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