Death caused by carbon monoxide inhalation (CO) is on the increase. In fact, the AMA (American Medical Association) names CO as the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths
in America. The rising risk of CO has caused jurisdictions all across the US to implement requirements for installation of carbon monoxide sensors not only for residential, but also commercial new construction (see standards link here)
What is CO?
Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of incomplete combustion, so it’s often associated with furnaces and portable heaters: here’s a link to the science of how it kills. At only 0.64% concentration, CO can cause death in as little as 15 minutes, while much lower levels can harm pregnancies and cause long-term health issues. I first learned about CO while reading about one of my childhood heroes, the explorer Richard Byrd – he almost died from CO poisoning in the Antarctic.
Since carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, it takes a special sensor to detect its presence. There are relatively inexpensive CO sensors, but they are not monitored. As is the case with non-monitored smoke sensors, this is only partial protection: it does not help you, unless you can help yourself. Most people like the comfort of knowing that help will be on the way in a critical condition. As I covered in a previous post on fire monitoring, a significant benefit of the right monitored alarm system is the additional protection and peace of mind such a system can offer, over and above intrusion detection.
Where to Place the Sensor
The Consumer Product Safety Commission states, “carbon monoxide detectors are as important to home safety as smoke detectors are,” and has a helpful publication on sensor placement (see link here). Note that the best location is in the sleeping area. CO is about the same “weight” as the air we breathe, so it does not rise like smoke. That's why I'm not a big fan of the “combination” smoke/CO sensors sold by some companies – and happily, neither are the folks at Underwriters Laboratories and other standard-setting organizations. Separate sensors are the way to go.
So, please take carbon monoxide seriously. Your safety means a lot to us, which is one reason FrontPoint Security offers 100% cellular monitoring and the full line of GE’s wireless sensors: smoke/heat, carbon monoxide, and even water and low temperature. The sensors are very affordable, can be added at any time, and – best of all - you won’t have to pay any extra monthly fee for these additional monitoring services. As a leader in interactive, wireless security systems, we are setting new standards for US alarm companies – and that’s a breath of fresh air!