Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. It robs our blood of the oxygen our heart and brain need to work properly. Early symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness and nausea. If you remain continually exposed, CO poisoning causes unconsciousness, brain damage, and death. Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to sound an alarm based upon the level of CO and the period of time it has been detected.
Most carbon monoxide accidents are preventable. Some basic causes of CO poisoning include:
-Using a gas oven to heat a room
-Running a car inside an enclosed space
-Running a car for a prolonged period of time in an open garage
-Defective gas or oil furnaces and water heaters
-Cracked chimney flues
-Closing the fireplace damper before the fire is completely out
There are 2 types of CO detectors commonly found on the market. The cost of both are similar. Also both detectors get more sensitive over time. No matter which type of detector you have, it should be tested monthly to make sure it works. Follow the manufacturer's instructions that come with the product.
One type of detector is plugged into a wall socket and has a life span of 5-10 years. This detector requires little to no maintenance over time. This type of detector normally gives a constant readout of the CO level and will reset automatically once the CO levels lower to non-hazardous conditions. If it is possible, you should buy a plug in CO detector that comes with a battery back-up.
The other type of detector uses a chemical sensor and battery. The sensor/battery usually has a 2 year limited warranty and lasts approximately 2 year when the sensor/battery must be replaced. When the battery is low, there is a warning to let you know. The convenience of this detector is that it can be placed in whatever location desired as it does not require a wall socket for power.
Every CO detector is unique. Be sure to read the details of the detector before you buy it.
**What to do if your CO detector goes into alarm.**
1. Locate your CO detector; make sure that the detector is sounding in "alarm" for a CO reading.
2. If the alarm is due to a CO reading, or you are feeling any of the symptoms related to CO poisoning, evacuate your home immediately and call 9-1-1.
3. Make sure you inform the 9-1-1 operator of the following:
-The type of detector (CO detector in this case)
-Whether everyone is out of the house
-Whether you feel any symptoms
4. Wait outside or at a neighbors house for emergency vehicles to arrive. Do NOT go back inside for any reason until you have been told that your house is safe.