All fuels require an adequate supply of oxygen to burn properly. Without a steady supply of oxygen, a fire cannot be started or sustained. If the amount the oxygen isn’t enough, the fuel may burn incompletely. In that case, instead of carbon dioxide, a poisonous gas called carbon monoxide is produced owing to the lack of oxygen.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a byproduct of incomplete combustion and one of the major causes of poisoning deaths. The carbon monoxide generated enters the lungs and the red blood cells and starves the body of oxygen. This affects the brain and lungs and causes suffocation. This condition quickly aggravates and turns deadly. Many lives are lost owing to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Preventing CO Buildup
Carbon monoxide buildup in the house can be caused owing to a number of factors. Some of the sources may include an open fireplace, ovens, clothes dryer, water heaters, a car running in a closed garage and so on.
An unattended fire may build up carbon monoxide in the house without you even realizing it. This is because the gas is colorless, odorless, tasteless and, therefore, is usually undetected in most cases. So, it is crucial to install a carbon monoxide detector to prevent exposure to this poisonous gas.
Let’s take a detailed look at some of the things that you need to consider while buying a carbon monoxide detector.
Separate CO Detector
Many smoke detectors come with a combination of both, smoke and carbon monoxide detection capabilities. It is advisable to buy a separate sensor for carbon monoxide detection since this works more efficiently than a dual detector.
If you have a large house, interconnected carbon monoxide alarms will come in handy for you. With this alarm installed, in case a carbon monoxide buildup is detected in one room, all the alarms installed in the rooms of the house will be triggered.
Usually, carbon monoxide detectors draw power from the electrical system of your house. The only problem for this arises when the power goes out. Therefore, you would need to keep in mind to check for a battery backup of the carbon monoxide detectors when you buy them so that they work accurately even when the power is out.
The most important criterion for an efficient carbon monoxide detector is the sound. While buying, make sure to check that the alarm is loud enough to be heard from all corners of the house. A 10-feet audibility radius is standard. Carbon monoxide detectors with variable alarm frequencies are also available for those with hearing loss or age problems.
Make sure that the carbon monoxide detectors are tested and guaranteed by certified and recognized laboratories. This will ensure the accuracy and reliability of the detectors.
Read the Instructions
It is important to know how a carbon monoxide detector works. Go through the manual to acquaint yourself with the detector. You would need to be familiar with the different types of sounds for the alarm or low battery and so on. Also, ensure that the alarm sounds for your carbon monoxide and smoke detector are not the same.
Many carbon monoxide detectors may give off false alarms owing to faulty manufacturing techniques. Even though you may not be able to detect this possibility while buying a carbon monoxide detector, you may avoid this problem by a considerable degree if you buy a good quality product. Therefore, buying the alarm from a renowned manufacturer is always recommended.
Installing a CO Detector
A carbon monoxide detector should be placed either high on the wall or on the ceiling for accurate detection of carbon monoxide buildup. Additionally, you should keep in mind to place the detectors about 15 – 20 feet away from electrical appliances. This is because all equipment that use combustion produce small amounts of carbon monoxide that are harmless. These little amounts may set off the alarm if it is placed nearby.
A carbon monoxide buildup peaks when there is a fire. If you are a victim of a fire accident, it is important to locate the cause of the fire. A fire investigation is crucial in that case. A CO-detector alarm going off may provide you with the early signs of a possible fire.
Contributed by Auto Fire & Safety Consultants