Home and Safety: Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors


Home safety is something that has generally improved greatly over the last few decades, but there are still areas where we can improve. On of the tings which is becoming more common in residential settings is the installation of carbon monoxide detectors. If you do not have a carbon monoxide detection system , I highly recommend that you take the time to do some research and consider installing one.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide, or CO is an odorless, colorless gas. This means that if there is carbon monoxide in an environment, you will not be able to detect it. Unlike CO2, or carbon dioxide (exhalation which is one of the purposes of breathing), our bodies have no way to know when carbon monoxide levels are increasing. However, it is also much more dangerous. When carbon monoxide builds up in an environment, you can experience symptoms such as dizziness, pain, and confusion. One of the most dangerous things about carbon monoxide poisoning is that victims will quickly become disoriented and unable to process things clearly. This puts them in a position where they will be unlikely to realize that they need to evacuate the area, and at a large risk for death.

Carbon Monoxide is produced largely during combustion, and therefore is most dangerous when there are fires or engines running in a space which is not well ventilated. However, there are a number of other sources, and sometimes residences can have dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide buildup due to unknown factors.

What Can I Do?

The number one thing that you can do to protect your family from CO poisoning is to install carbon monoxide detectors inside of your residence. Because we cannot detect it, it is potentially more important to have these than smoke detectors. In the case of a traditional fire, we have the ability to notice the smoke, the heat, and evacuate without the smoke detector. However, in the case of a carbon monoxide leak, we are likely to unsuspectingly be poisoned, potentially passing out and dying before we even realize that something is wrong.

Aside from installing a detection system, you should also ensure that your home is not at risk for the buildup of carbon monoxide. Make sure that whenever you are burning something, it is in a well ventilated area. If you have a fire inside, make sure that your chimney is functioning, and that the fumes are all directed outside of the house. Similarly, make sure that all of your indoor electrical appliances meet rigorous electrical standards. Things like heaters, water heaters, and gas burning appliance can develop carbon monoxide leaks if they are poorly constructed or have been damaged. On that note, even though carbon monoxide is odorless, have your appliances tested if you notice strange smells from them. Sometimes damage or a leak which is releasing carbon monoxide will also cause other gases to leak, allowing us to know something is wrong.

Finally, always avoid using things like generators, gas stoves, or other devices which are designed for outdoor use inside your home.

Regular Maintenance

Maintaining your home is another key step you can take in avoiding CO poisoning. Vents, piping, and other internal components of your home are often designed to ensure that dangerous gases are routed away from the inhabitants. However, if they are old or have become damaged, this function can break down.

A qualified electrician can be called to install the systems which can help you stay safe in your home. At the most basic level, all homes should have an appropriate number of smoke and CO detectors installed. This may require running wiring to connect them. A connected smoke and CO detection system can be much more effective than individual nodes and can also help to prevent annoying false positives from your alarm system.  If you really want to make your home safer, you can also look at installing more complicated technology. You can have smart home technology installed which can  give you readings on the air quality in your home, both in real time and on average. This can help you make informed decisions about things like when to close windows, when to open them, and whether or not your air ducts need to be cleaned.

No matter what you want, every home needs to be secured against fire and the intrusion of poisonous gases. We have amazing technology which saves tens of thousands of lives every year, and unfortunately, many of the deaths which do occur only occur because proper precautions were not taken. If your smoke and CO detection systems are not functioning, call an expert today. Lives have been saved and people have fixed major problems in their lives when they realize that they were slowly being poisoned by something they could not detect.

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