Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas produced due to combustion. Any fuel-burning appliance, tool, or other equipment has the potential to produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. When certain appliances, heaters, and furnaces are inside a home, there is always a risk of carbon monoxide. Even in small doses, carbon monoxide can cause serious illness or death. Because the gas can go undetected so easily, homeowners and landlords must take precautions by installing adequate carbon monoxide detectors around the house.
The first line of defense against CO poisoning is to make sure that all fuel-burning equipment is installed and operating properly. Aside from this, however, a carbon monoxide alarm in good working order can help save lives and prevent illness. Most devices are fairly inexpensive and easily installed. Let’s take a look at the importance of good carbon monoxide detectors.
What is carbon monoxide?
As discussed, CO is a toxic gas that is the by-product of combustion. Made up of one part carbon and one part oxygen, CO is a simple molecule that can cause devastating results when inhaled. Carbon monoxide is produced when carbon fuel such as gasoline, coal, propane, natural gas, or heating oil fails to burn completely. Incomplete combustion is a frequent occurrence and doesn’t pose a danger in an open area with adequate ventilation. CO can be dangerous and even deadly in confined spaces such as basements, kitchens, garages, or campers. Carbon monoxide poisoning causes more than 400 deaths and 50,000 emergency room visits each year. Without a carbon monoxide detector, the gas is difficult to identify.
Why is carbon monoxide dangerous?
Carbon monoxide is dangerous because it is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, making it difficult to detect. When exposed to CO without fresh air, it binds with your red blood cells and decreases your blood oxygen level as it passes through your lungs. There are a few symptoms of CO poisoning that include headache, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath. People get into trouble because many of the symptoms are similar to those of a cold or flu. This means that they are easily ignored or treated in another way. Disorientation and unconsciousness can occur when exposed to prolonged levels of carbon monoxide. Without proper treatment, the situation can turn lethal quickly. Because CO is so dangerous, a good detector is essential in any home.
How can a carbon monoxide detector protect you?
Carbon monoxide detectors are the fastest and most effective way to prevent illness. It is suggested that you install a CO detector in multiple areas around your home. If you have a multi-story house, you should place them on each level of the home. They work similarly to a smoke alarm by sounding a siren if they detect carbon monoxide. Some models are incorporated with smoke detectors, and there are also smart devices that can connect with your smartphone. Other simpler models are also available and less expensive.
Carbon monoxide detectors sound an alarm when they sense a certain amount of CO over time. Depending on your model, different sensors trigger different types of alarms. A biomimetic sensor uses a gel that changes color when CO is absorbed, and the change triggers an alarm. A metal-oxide semiconductor lowers the electrical resistance when the circuitry detects CO, and this change sets off an alarm. An electrochemical sensor is the third type where electrodes in a chemical solution change with the presence of CO and trigger an alert. No matter what type of device you have, it can prove to be a lifesaving tool. When an alarm sounds, it is imperative to seek fresh air and ventilate the home immediately.
Carbon monoxide is a very dangerous gas that can create a serious situation quickly. Fortunately, a good carbon monoxide detector can detect CO before it reaches dangerous levels and give you and your family time to move to safety.