According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, over 10,000 Americans are hospitalized and 1,500 die each year from Carbon Monoxide (“CO”) poisoning.
The gas, known as the silent killer, is responsible for the death of thousands of children, teenagers, adults and even entire families due to CO poisoning – which usually occurs after a family has settled in peacefully for a good night’s sleep . . . they never saw it coming.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
It is an odorless gas that is absorbed into the bloodstream and displaces oxygen with CO, causing unconsciousness and then finally asphyxiation. It is a byproduct of partially burned fossil fuel and is particularly dangerous in homes that have older gas or heating oil furnaces or those that heat their water in a conventional fuel fired water heater.
Carbon Monoxide Levels
Depending on the CO level, carbon monoxide symptoms range from dizziness and nausea to outright death. 1500/10,000 or about 1 in 7 perish when seriously exposed to carbon monoxide.
What to Do if You Think You Have CO Poisoning?
First, immediately get fresh air. Carbon monoxide gas is most dangerous in an enclosed area. Lack of fresh air could very well be a death warrant for those engulfed in a carbon monoxide affected area.
Next, seek medical attention right away. Once clear of the deadly gas call 911 if you’re the one affected – do not attempt to drive if you’re experiencing dizziness or other similar symptoms. If you’re unaffected but caring for others, get them to the emergency room immediately.
Carbon Monoxide Detector Law
All states in this country now require carbon monoxide detectors installed in residential structures; if you do not have one you are breaking the law. It may surprise you to know that carbon monoxide detector laws often date back decades, but are often unknown or ignored until a home owner applies for a permit to have work done on their property – part of the final work sign off usually involves compliance with this ordinance. Regardless, don’t take a chance; they are not expensive as you will see below in our Carbon Monoxide Detector Review.
Where to Put a Carbon Monoxide Detector?
This is a common question; there are two answers to this. The first is “where you should place your carbon monoxide detector” the next is “where you should NOT place it”.
Let’s review the rules of placement first. One detector should go in each of these areas:
- Within 10-15 feet outside of each separate sleeping area;
- In every level of your home, including the basement;
- Near or over any attached garage.
Where NOT to place a carbon monoxide detector
- Within 10 to 15 feet of any furnace or fossil fuel burning heat source;
- In or near humid areas (i.e. bathrooms or saunas);
- In direct sunlight;
- In areas that get extremely hot such as an unfinished attic;
- Behind obstacles that will prevent carbon monoxide detectors from working, such as a curtain or behind a door;
- Near ceiling fans, vents or air conditioning – these can mask a buildup of CO gas.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
The two most popular carbon monoxide detector manufacturers are First Alert and Kidde. These two companies’ products account all of our Hot Ten’s choices and they are both well-respected manufacturers.
Features to Look For
There is one key feature and many much less important ones. The key feature is, as you may guess: Precision in the detection of carbon monoxide gas.
Detection and notification at different contamination points is critical. You don’t necessarily want your detector to go off at a few parts per million, but you may want it to “just let you know,” at say 150 ppm and then warn you sternly at 300 ppm. We rate each unit’s sensitivity at different PPMs.
We also let you know if the unit is battery powered, hardwired to your home’s internal power or both. Next we tell you the type of warning system disseminated by your carbon monoxide detector, beeping, voice or both. Finally we discuss the detectors’ placement; wall or ceiling? Carbon monoxide detector placement is a design issue of course, but it is also essential for the safety of your family.