Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Smoke Detectors
Reliable statistics provide by Journal of the American Medical Association, there are 2,100 deaths caused by carbon monoxide in the United States every year. Carbon monoxide is rated as the top cause of poisoning deaths in the US. The reason why carbon monoxide causes so many deaths is because it is odorless and colorless but the good news is that it is highly preventable. The law now requires every home and building to have smoke detectors which have the potential to save lives by sending an early warning.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Most people who are sleeping or unconscious can die without experiencing the symptoms associated with carbon monoxide. Depending on the carbon monoxide levels in the air, death can occur within a matter of minutes or a few hours. The work of a carbon monoxide detector is to alert you and other occupants of the house when there is carbon monoxide in the house.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
In most cases, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be likened to flu but without the fever. Warning signs include dizziness, sleepiness, irregular breathing, confusion, chest pain, food poisoning, shortness of breath, weakness or fatigue and vomiting. A carbon monoxide detector will monitor dangerous levels of this poisonous gas.
Carbon Monoxide Sources
There are many sources of carbon monoxide such as stoves, gas ranges, water heaters, gas clothes dryers, wood fire places, furnaces among many others. This poisonous gas can also come from car exhausts, charcoal grills, clogged chimneys, and fuel burning space heaters. If all the above items are located in poor ventilation, carbon monoxide will easily build up and you will be poisoned if you inhale this poisoned air.
Carbon Monoxide Prevention
- You can prevent carbon monoxide by having a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home and if possible you should have one installed at every level of your house to ensure that the detector is serving its purpose, change the batteries at least once every 6 months.
- When purchasing the detector, ensure it has the seal of approval from the American Gas
- Your gas appliances should be checked annually by an expert and have any appliance that is not working properly repaired.
- When using flameless chemical heaters, use them outdoors as they can contribute to carbon monoxide build up in the house.
- When enjoying indoor fire at the fireplace, be sure that the flue is opened and you should not use a gas oven for purposes of heating up your house.
- Generators or vehicles should not be run indoors even if the garage door is open as this can still cause CO buildups to dangerous levels.
- Use battery powered heaters when camping and in case you are using a grill at home, places it outdoors or in highly ventilated areas.
- All gas appliances should be well adjusted and an exhaust fan should be used where necessary.
- You should differentiate between the smoke detector alarm and the carbon monoxide alarm.
- If you cannot afford the installation of a carbon monoxide detector, you can contact your local fire department because there are programs to assist in this important and life-saving installation.
In the US, most local and state laws require that any place that is considered human habitation should have smoke detectors. The laws further specify that the detectors should be located near bedrooms, in stairways garages and hallways. New laws require that these detectors be connected to the building’s electrical wiring and have a backup battery unit in place.
It is recommended that smoke detectors should be replaced after 10 years because as they age, the components become less effective and this makes them unreliable. You should not live in a risky house, call a Fail Safe Electric professional and have smoke detectors installed in your home.
Types of Smoke Detectors
Ionization and photoelectric smoke detectors are the two main types of smoke detectors available. These two detectors will effectively detect the presence of smoke and are required to pass UL certification. They might have similar responsibilities but they have differences in the way they function.
Ionization Smoke Detectors
This detector features two electrodes between which there is a continuous current running and when smoke enters the unit, the current is discontinued and this triggers the alarm. The main disadvantage of this unit is that it cannot differentiate between smoke and steam and the alarm may go off when it is not necessary. They also have a tendency of sounding an alarm in case of a hot shower or a burnt toast. The benefit is that they are cheaper than the other detectors and have a quicker response in case of a flaming fire. In case the battery is running low, the alarm will go off to notify you of the low battery.
Photoelectric Smoke Detectors
This smoke detector has an internal photocell which detects a reduction in light and when smoke goes in the unit, there is scattering of light and this triggers the alarm. These detectors have an advantage of responding faster to shouldering fires. Though they will not notify you when the battery is dead, these detectors will not sound a false alarm and thus are less of a nuisance compared to the ionization type.
Regardless of the type of smoke detector you decide to buy, you should ensure that their batteries are changed annually. To be on the safe side, Failsafe Electric suggests that you pick a prominent day of the year such as your birthday, 4th of July or New Year’s Day to change the batteries and test your smoke detectors.
Fire Safety Tips and Smoke Detectors
Here are a number of fire safety tips that you can follow to keep you and your family safe:
- Your home should have a minimum of one smoke detector in each level and should not be placed near windows, doors or drafts.
- The operations and the alarms should be checked once every 6 months and the detectors should have battery backups.
- The detectors should be placed centrally in the ceiling and at least 6 inches away from walls. If the detector is on the wall. It should be at least one foot away from the ceiling.
- The best location for smoke detectors is in hallways, stairways and near bedrooms.
- The detector should be vacuumed annually to keep dust from accumulating in the unit and compromising its function.
- Removed batteries should be replaced or put back after charging as forgetting will leave your house at risk.
- There are programs for people who cannot afford smoke detectors and you can contact your local fire department for more information.
- At least one fire blanket and one fire extinguisher should be kept in an easily accessible area in the house.
- You should come up with an emergency exit plan that should be explained to everyone in the family.
- In case of a fire and you have exited the house; do not return as this might lead to a loss of life. Wait for fire fighters.
Testing a Smoke Detector
You can push the test button on the detector to find out if the alarm still works. This will also let you know if the battery is still working. Light a match or a candle and place it about six inches below the detector to find out if the alarm will be triggered. If the alarm does not sound, blow of the candle or match to see if the smoke will make it sound. If the alarm does not sound, then you will need a new unit. It is important to also check the power because this might be the reason the detector is malfunctioning.
You should prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and fires through placing detectors that will sound an early warning before the situation escalates. Contact Fail Safe Electric for a purchase and installation of Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors for a safer home.