While we all understand (or should) the importance of smoke detectors in our homes, carbon monoxide detectors are an equally important device that could save your family's life. Colorless and odorless, carbon monoxide can be an insidious threat—one that is generated by every major appliance that functions using combustion. This includes furnaces, gas water heaters, and space heaters to name just a few. Detectors are an affordable way to secure a little peace of mind.
Why It's Dangerous
Carbon monoxide is attracted to hemoglobin in the bloodstream. As you breathe it in, carbon monoxide displaces oxygen in your system and causes flu-like symptoms that increase in severity until you lose consciousness or worse.
What to Do
If you or someone in your family begins to suffer from headache, nausea, dizziness, and/or vomiting, get everyone out of the house and into fresh air before calling the fire department. NOTE: Do NOT try to track down the source of the leak yourself, as the highest levels of carbon monoxide will be found there. Leave this task to the fire department who will be equipped for it, and first seek fresh air and medical attention for you and your family. Keep in mind that children, the elderly, and those with respiratory or coronary problems may show symptoms before healthy adults. Ideally, the installation of a carbon monoxide detector will notify you before anyone in your home reaches this point.
Odds are very good that you have at least one appliance in your home that creates carbon monoxide as a byproduct of its function—wood burning stoves, fireplaces, gas ranges, and gas dryers all do. Keeping these and similar appliances well ventilated and well maintained should ensure that all of the toxins they are producing find their way outside.
The Price of Safety
In-home carbon monoxide detectors cost anywhere from $20 to $120. The Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests installing a carbon monoxide detector near every bedroom in your home, and replacing the detectors every five years.
Until next time,
The Home Know-It-All