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Carbon Monoxide Protection and Monitoring

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Carbon monoxide is an invisible gas, but in this case, what you don’t know can hurt you. Carbon monoxide can be a silent threat in your home and is a leading cause of death due to poisoning in America. That’s why in addition to smoke detectors, carbon monoxide protection and monitoring services should be a part of your residential security system. Before discussing the types of carbon monoxide protection and services available, let’s take a look at what this dangerous gas is and how to detect it in your home.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide, often referred to as CO, is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas. It’s released when things like gasoline, natural gas, wood or propane are burned. When this occurs outside, carbon monoxide dissipates into the air but when burned inside your home or garage, CO can build to hazardous levels. Carbon monoxide can get omitted from a variety of common household features or appliances including fireplaces, water heaters, clothes dryers, ovens, and more. It’s most common in the winter months or during storms, when homeowners may be tempted to run generators or other heat sources too close or inside the home. When carbon monoxide levels rise inside, it can become dangerous for your family members and pets. The gas passes through the lungs and into the cells where it interferes with the exchange of oxygen. If left untreated, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can cause permanent damage to the brain, lungs, and eventually result in death from suffocation. One of the most concerning aspects of carbon monoxide poisoning is that the symptoms are often subtle signs that you might confuse for a common illness like a cold or flu. The CDC indicates the elderly, pets, and children are the most susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms of exposure to elevated CO levels can include:

Shortness of breath

Mild to severe headaches

Nausea

Dizziness or blurred vision

Weakness or loss of consciousness

How Does a Carbon Monoxide Detector Work?

While all carbon monoxide detectors are designed to omit alerts or notifications of escalated levels of the gas, how each device monitors the level of CO in the air depends on the type of detector. Here are several different types of CO detectors along with an explanation of how the different sensors they use monitor carbon monoxide.

Biometric

These detectors have a gel that changes color when it absorbs carbon monoxide and the color change triggers an alarm.

Electrochemical

Electrodes in a chemical solution sense change the current when it meets carbon monoxide.

Metal Oxide

This semiconductor chip has circuitry that detects carbon monoxide and triggers an alarm when the electrical resistance lowers.

Dual-Function

Some carbon monoxide detectors are also smoke detectors or have other sensors built in that serve a dual purpose.

Features and Options

Carbon monoxide detectors have various features that you should be aware of and look for depending on the needs of your home and your budget.

Digital

Some carbon monoxide detection devices have a digital readout, so you can visually check the levels of CO in your home.

Hardwired

These detectors are wired into your electrical panel instead of using batteries so that even if you fail to check them regularly, they’ll still be fully powered and functioning.

Smart

This term is used widely in home automation can mean lots of different things. On a basic level, a smart carbon monoxide detector can sync to your mobile device and send notifications.

Battery-powered

When CO detectors operate on batteries, you’ll have the comfort of knowing they’ll still work when the power is out but also the hassle of having to remember to test and replace batteries every few months.

Top Things to Consider

Before you install carbon monoxide detectors, carefully consider a few of these key factors to determine the extent and kind of CO protection and monitoring your home needs.

Who are you protecting from carbon monoxide poisoning?

If you have children, pets, or older family members, carbon monoxide protection is a more serious concern. Those who are already ill or struggle with breathing problems like asthma may also be more sensitive to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Where should you install carbon monoxide detectors?

Because it’s more likely that you’d become overwhelmed by carbon monoxide levels while you’re sleeping, it’s recommended a detector be installed outside of each bedroom. You may also want to consider installing carbon monoxide protection in kitchens, garages, and basements where the culprits of CO omission are more likely to be located. The National Fire Agency recommends at a minimum installing one on every level of the home.

What will you need to do to maintain your carbon monoxide protection?

Detectors last about five years, but you should also check and replace batteries and clean carbon monoxide detectors every month.

What should I do if my carbon monoxide detector goes off?

Get everyone outside as quickly as possible and check for symptoms of poisoning. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911 for immediate emergency assistance. Do not, under any circumstances, re-enter your home until it has been inspected and deemed safe by authorities.

Important Benefits

If the seriousness of carbon monoxide poisoning hasn’t convinced you to invest in protection and monitoring for your home, perhaps a few of these other benefits will help you decide.

Early Warning

Because carbon monoxide is so difficult from humans to detect, often our first warning is when the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning become evident. CO detectors provide essential early warning, monitoring levels over longer periods of time to alert homeowners to the risk before symptoms arise.

Identify Risks

Most modern-day carbon monoxide detectors are specifically designed not to respond to heat or humidity, so they won’t be as susceptible to false alarms or mistake other gases like ammonia for carbon monoxide.

Less False Alarms

Because they are placed near potential sources of fumes like stoves, water heaters, garages and fireplaces, carbon monoxide detectors can help you identify areas of risk and better ventilate your home before an incident occurs.

Peace of Mind

Because carbon monoxide can affect some of the most vulnerable members of your family, including children and pets, detectors can help you feel confident the people and things you love are safe even when you can’t be home to protect them.

Monitoring Systems from American Alarm

American Alarm has expert technicians and professionals that can evaluate your home for risks from carbon monoxide and fire. They’ll work with you to install a carbon monoxide protection and monitoring system that integrates with your home’s existing automation system. You’ll receive a smartphone notification if elevated levels are detected in your home and have the assistance of our UL central monitoring station available at your fingertips to respond to an alarm and dispatch authorities to help.

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