You Need Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon on its own is safe and even vital to life. On the other hand, when something breaks down to form molecules of one carbon atom combined with one oxygen atom, this creates a substance that is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and toxic. No, not Iocane powder, though carbon and oxygen combined could also defeat someone in a battle of wits. Rather, it forms a gas known as carbon monoxide (CO).

The Silent Killer

When someone inhales carbon monoxide, it displaces the oxygen in the victim’s body, which can lead to oxygen deprivation and death. Since people can’t detect carbon monoxide on their own and it’s easy to confuse the symptoms of CO poisoning with flu symptoms, it has earned the nickname ” the silent killer.” You may not know you have carbon monoxide poisoning until it’s too late.
The first step of combating a danger is to know where it comes from. In the case of carbon monoxide, it’s more common than you may think. CO is a byproduct of combustion, so anything that uses combustion as an energy source can produce CO. If you have any gas-powered appliances, indoor fireplaces, a gas furnace, or a gas water heater, you have sources of CO in your home. Most of the time, these devices are safe, and vents carry any dangerous gasses out of the home, but if there’s a leak, you have a problem.

Protecting Your Home

If CO is undetectable to people, how do you know if there’s a leak? You get something that can detect it. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends installing carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of a residence and outside sleeping areas. When installing your detectors, it is commonly recommended to place them on a wall about five feet above the floor. Don’t install them near windows, in humid areas like a bathroom, in direct sunlight, or by fans and vents.

After you’ve installed your carbon monoxide detectors, they aren’t something you can set and forget. You will want to test and clean them regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and it is generally recommended to change the batteries every six months. If you forget, your detector will beep to remind you. Some detectors have a different pattern for if the alert indicates a battery reminder or a leak warning. Learn how your detectors work so you can know the difference.

Beep!

Your carbon monoxide detectors went off in the middle of the night, and it’s not the battery reminder sequence. There’s a CO leak. It’s what you wanted to protect yourself against but hoped you would never have to deal with. What do you do now?

1. Get all people and pets out of the house. This will ensure you are in a well-ventilated space with fresh air.
2. Call emergency services and report that the alarm has gone off.
3. Do not reenter the house until the emergency responders have declared the premise safe.

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