Faulty fuel-burning appliances and other household hazards can kill—stay safe with technology and tips
Imagine that you're lying in bed after a long day of work. As the night wears on, a dull headache leaves you staring at the ceiling. Later, you start to feel nauseated. Do you try to sleep it off—or could it be time to get out of the house?
The answer depends: there’s a chance you’ve been poisoned by a gas called carbon monoxide (CO). It's an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that causes a range of flu-like symptoms before incapacitating people who breathe in too much of it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CO poisoning sends more than 50,000 people to the hospital each year. (It also causes more non-drug poisoning deaths than any other source.)
But a device called a CO detector can tell you when it's not safe to go back to bed. And the best carbon monoxide detectors may save your life even if you're knocked out. Let’s explain, looking at:
The threat carbon monoxide poses and how the best CO detectors address it
Tips for easy carbon monoxide detector placement and installation
Other measures you should take to avoid CO poisoning
Anything that burns fuel can produce the deadly gas, and only carbon monoxide detectors can sense it
Many of the fuels we use in and around the home (like natural gas, wood, charcoal, and gasoline) contain carbon. And when there's not enough oxygen present, burning fuels release carbon monoxide (CO). It's one part carbon atom, one part oxygen, and binds to your blood where oxygen normally would, eventually damaging the heart and brain. In high concentrations, CO kills in under five minutes.
Anything that burns fuel can become a source of CO, as well as some things that don’t. That includes obvious sources, like fireplaces and gas stoves, as well as many dryers, water heaters, and furnaces. These devices can become deadly when improperly ventilated, installed, or maintained.
Household devices, expecially those that aren’t maintained or ventilated properly, can release CO—with no fumes.
Unfortunately, you can't smell, taste, or see carbon monoxide. That's why CO sensors, which monitor concentrations of carbon monoxide in the air, are your best bet.
Like smoke detectors, these devices make a loud noise designed to get your attention even when you're asleep. They're also designed to help you escape unharmed. Rigorous testing and design standards ensure that modern CO sensors activate before an average adult would experience anything more than a slight headache (but not so soon that they cause false alarms).
The best carbon monoxide sensors can save you even if CO knocks you unconscious
But what happens if you're already unconscious? What if you're away for a while, leaving dogs or cats (who may sicken more quickly than people!) inside the house?
The best carbon monoxide detectors solve problems like these with two features: Professional monitoring—where a company keeps an eye on your sensors 24/7—and remote notifications.
Here's how the Frontpoint CO Sensor works with our smart-home security system. When it detects the gas, you'll hear two alarms: one from the device and another from your system's control panel. You'll also get a mobile notification telling you which CO sensor is activated.
Simultaneously, a signal is sent to our 24/7 monitoring team. Because CO poisoning can incapacitate quickly, these security professionals contact emergency dispatchers as soon as they realize your CO sensor has activated. Once help is on the way, they'll call to notify you about the situation.
Basically, a CO sensor backed by professional monitoring provides your home with continuous protection—even if you're unwell or otherwise unable to take action yourself. And because our CO sensor always remains active (even if the rest of your system is disarmed), you'll always have somebody watching your back.
Tips on carbon monoxide detector placement and installation
Frontpoint's CO sensor takes virtually no time to install. We've designed it—and every other Frontpoint sensor—as a rapid, do-it-yourself (DIY) addition to our home security systems. It's completely wireless, battery-powered and, thanks to Z-Wave technology, transmits signals with little battery drain, making it one of the best carbon monoxide detectors for DIY installers.
Simply remove the wax backing, stick it to a wall, and press firmly for about 30 seconds. That's all. We'll do all of the configuration before we ship it to you—so it connects to the system effortlessly.
You'll want to give a little thought to where you place your new sensor. It's best to put one on every floor and near every sleeping area. Bedrooms (or nearby hallways) are your best bet. Don't put them too close to appliances that may release CO or in your kitchen, garage, or utility closet.
The most important CO detector placement advice: Focus on places where people sleep. Source: Tim Collins (CC BY-SA 3.0)
And for even better results, take advantage of these carbon monoxide detector placement tips:
Install the sensor on a clean, dry surface.
Avoid locations that may get especially hot or cold (above 100 degrees Fahrenheit or below 40).
Place it away from large quantities of metal or electrical wiring, which may disrupt wireless signals.
Ensure airflow to the CO sensor: don't cover it or place it where objects may get in the way.
As a final note: Unlike smoke detectors or smoke and heat sensors, CO sensors don't need to be placed on the ceiling. CO doesn't rise quickly like heat or smoke. Instead, it mixes somewhat evenly with the air in the room. For the best CO detector placement, choose a location on a wall (or, if necessary, a ceiling) at least two feet away from corners and other locations where air movement may be limited.
Helpful tips on carbon monoxide safety—and getting more out of your CO sensor
The best carbon monoxide sensors provide you and your family with an around-the-clock defense against an invisible threat. But always keep these other tips on carbon monoxide safety in mind:
Watch out for the symptoms of CO poisoning: weakness, confusion, dizziness, and shortness of breath, as well as vomiting, headaches, and blurred vision.
Have fuel-burning appliances and fireplaces inspected and maintained annually.
Avoid burning fuels indoors. Keep gas generators and chemical heaters outside.
Replace the batteries on your CO sensor regularly. Frontpoint’s sensors take 2 AAAs.
Replace your CO detector periodically. Every five years is typical, but Frontpoint's sensor is designed to last 10!
Most importantly: Evacuate as soon as you hear the alarm go off.
Frontpoint helps keep you safe and informed with expert monitoring, powerful technology, and customizable home safety solutions. Take a look at our security packages or get a quote today by calling 1-877-602-5276.
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