Carbon Monoxide Monitoring – An Absolute Necessity

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We all hear of fire/smoke detectors, but oftentimes carbon monoxide detectors are on the backburner when looked at side by side with its popular counterpart. However, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has stated, “carbon monoxide detectors are as important to home safety as smoke detectors are,” and recommends each home have at least one carbon monoxide detector, and preferably one on each level of the building.[1]  This is something that should be shouted from the rooftops and shared with each and every homeowner. It is also why many monitoring systems are offering carbon monoxide services to its customers.

So what is carbon monoxide (“CO”)?  It is a toxic gas that can be deadly to people and animals.  By being colorless, odorless, and tasteless, it is extremely difficult for people to detect this gas.

The problem with carbon monoxide is that it can lead to poisoning. However, since carbon monoxide is so elusive, it is often misdiagnosed by physicians as the common flu. People inside the home, who are lucky enough to have survived carbon monoxide poisoning, state that they experienced extreme headaches, dizziness, nausea, weakness, and being in a state of confusion when confronted with carbon monoxide. However, most people who fall victim of this deadly poison are asleep when it happens. This means it kills people without them even knowing it.  That is why it is so important for each and every home to have at least one carbon monoxide detector.

Carbon monoxide poisoning usually results from house fires, faulty furnaces and heaters, wood-burning stoves, generators, and other propane equipment.  The poisoning from these faulty pieces of equipment can be in small amounts that could go unnoticed until it is too late or could be a strong and powerful leak.  However, it is difficult to determine if it is a small or big leak and that is why there is a need for carbon monoxide detectors.  These detectors will pick up the toxic gas and instantly sound an alarm so that a homeowner will have adequate time to exit the house. Even if homeowners don’t have a fireplace, gas furnace or stove, it is still in their best interests to install carbon monoxide detectors in the home.  Ideally, homeowners want to place these detectors in every room of the house, but if cost prohibits them from doing this, it is recommended that a carbon monoxide detector be placed on each and every level of the house, including the basement.

CO detectors come in a variety of fashions.  These include battery operated, plug-ins with battery backup, hard wired with battery backup, wireless systems, or a dual combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarm.  Just check out your local Walmart or hardware store and choose a do it yourself (DIY) system or consult one of the many home security companies out there to have someone professionally install it for you and have your system monitored. The difference between just having a carbon monoxide detector and actually having it monitored is the peace of mind you will receive by knowing that the detector is sending wireless signals back to a monitoring station. This saves you pivotal minutes in the face of a stealthy killer.  This also takes out most of the fear that homeowners still might have of just having a regular carbon monoxide detector.  With carbon monoxide monitoring, the companies’ representative can contact homeowners if the batteries on the detector are low or if the detector isn’t acting properly. Further, say that a homeowner is a deep sleeper or hearing impaired – having a carbon monoxide monitoring system allows for them to be alerted instantly so that they have time to exit the house.

Some homeowners and renters might be surprised that this technology and monitoring is offered.  The good news for them is that many security and alarm monitoring companies are now offering carbon monoxide monitoring for a relatively small fee.  These systems can detect levels of carbon monoxide gas within the house through 24/7 monitoring to a central station. However, if the homeowner does not want carbon monoxide monitoring services, the security system installer can still install stand-alone carbon monoxide detectors that will sound an alarm inside the house similar to that of a smoke detector.  For this option, all that the homeowner would have to pay for is the equipment.

CO detectors range in prices from a hundred dollars to a few hundred dollars depending on how many the homeowner has installed.  The average price of an installed carbon monoxide detector that I have researched is around $100 and it is around $10 per month to monitor these detectors.  Another caveat is that most of these home automation system companies require homeowners to purchase an alarm system as well and do not offer stand-alone carbon monoxide monitoring.

If somehow homeowners cannot afford a monitoring system, the next best option is to make sure all of their appliances that use gas work properly.  Similarly, furnaces and heaters must be routinely checked to make sure there are no leaks or potential problems.  Ideally, it is recommended that a homeowner hire a technician to do this, but if they are into saving money, they need to make sure to at least read the instruction manuals for these appliances and equipment and install carbon monoxide detectors near them so that they have the most amount of time to exit the premises.

Make sure to protect yourself and your loved ones by purchasing at least one carbon monoxide detector per level of your home and/or have your home monitored for 24 hour support. What’s a few extra dollars if it means potentially saving lives? By installing these simple devices in your home, it will provide a general sense of security knowing that they are monitoring a silent, deadly gas.  It could also be one of the most important decisions a homeowner will ever make.

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[1] http://web.archive.org/web/20090409030219/http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/5010.html

 

Posted on Wednesday, May 28th, 2014