CO is an odorless, colorless gas that is impossible to detect in a home environment without a warning device. CO is highly toxic and attaches itself to hemoglobin in the blood stream 200 times stronger than oxygen. This results in inadequate amounts of oxygen traveling through the body.
Carbon monoxide detectors
One of the main problems in homes with CO detectors is that they are positioned on the ceiling. That’s a problem because heated air rises to the top, preventing CO from rising to the surface. To prevent this problem, place the carbon monoxide alarms at least 15 cm below the ceiling. Moreover, they should be positioned at a distance from sources of heat and humidity, such as windows.
The most common types of carbon monoxide sensor detectors use an electrochemical reaction to detect CO. The chemical reaction causes an electrical current to surge, telling the detector how much CO is in the air. Another type of detectors uses a metal oxide substance instead of a chemical solution. This material lowers its resistance to the flow of electricity depending on the concentration of carbon monoxide.
Some carbon monoxide detectors also have beeping functions that notify users if they need to change their batteries. If the beeping is continuous, then the carbon monoxide level in the air is too high and you should move to a fresh location as quickly as possible. You should also have your gas appliances checked by a professional every year. This way, a trained technician can detect potential leaks and offer tips for prevention.
Installing a carbon monoxide detector
Installing a carbon monoxide detector is an easy and important step for protecting your home and family. It is recommended that you place the detector at least three feet from any flammable objects, such as the stovetop or oven. Additionally, the detector should be placed at least five to 10 feet from the appliance. It is also recommended that you service your detector once a year. The installation process will vary depending on the type of detector you have, but it should be easy to perform and should be documented in your product’s manual.
In California, new residential dwellings and multi-family dwellings with fossil fuel appliances must be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. In addition, hotels and dormitories that are affiliated with schools must have the device.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
If you’re concerned about carbon monoxide poisoning, you need to act fast. If you feel any of the symptoms, get outside to fresh air and call 911. If you don’t have an alarm, try to open windows and doors and turn off all possible sources of carbon monoxide in the home.
CO poisoning can be fatal if you aren’t aware of the symptoms. In the first few hours after exposure, you may have a headache and chest pain. If the exposure continues, you may experience shortness of breath and dizziness. Eventually, you may also lose consciousness or pass out.
Although it’s not easy to spot the symptoms, it’s important to be alert. People with breathing problems and elderly people are particularly vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning. The concentration of CO can reach high levels in a matter of minutes, and a very high concentration can kill an individual within five minutes.
Detecting carbon monoxide without an alarm
Carbon monoxide alarms are useful for detecting potentially dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. They should be placed between 15 and 20 feet away from fossil fuel-burning devices and other sources of humidity. Despite the fact that the gas is invisible and odorless, the alarm will sound even when there is no sign of a problem.
There are several different types of carbon monoxide detectors on the market. Each one uses a different method to gauge the amount of CO in the air. For example, early models only rely on chemical detection, which means that they display a white pad that fades in color when exposed to CO. As this method provides only a visual warning, it is not an ideal option for detecting carbon monoxide in your home. However, as the number of people dying from carbon monoxide rose during the 1990s, audible alarms became standard.
If you suspect the presence of carbon monoxide in your home, you should call 911 immediately. Try to go outside to get fresh air. Make a head count, and don’t go back inside until emergency responders say it is safe to do so. Otherwise, you may lose consciousness. If you suspect that a malfunctioning appliance is the source of CO in your home, have it checked by a professional.