How Safe Is Your Home Really?
When you’re at home, it’s only natural that you will feel relaxed and safe. However, there are some basic precautions that you need to take in order to make sure that the feeling of safety is based on a solid foundation.
For example, did you know that every year approximately 500 people die in the USA alone due to carbon monoxide poisoning? Many of these deaths occur in their own homes, the place where they should have been safe and secure.
Carbon monoxide it the number one cause of death due to poison in the USA. In addition to those tragic, and unnecessary deaths, somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 people become seriously ill due to carbon monoxide poisoning each year.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, tasteless and colorless gas that is a little less dense than atmospheric air. When present in high enough levels (higher than 35 parts per million), it is poisonous to humans and animals.
Carbon monoxide can be produced by burning things and heating things. So, if you have a gas burner, portable gas heaters, a gas boiler – or even if you just smoke cigarettes – you will have carbon monoxide sources present in your home. Even if you don’t have these sources inside your home, if you have an adjoining garage, you may get carbon monoxide in your house due to exhaust fumes.
Carbon monoxide isn’t a problem as long as the concentration doesn’t rise to unacceptable levels. That’s why you’re unlikely to have any problems if you’re barbecuing outside, burning leaves etc. Likewise, if your home is well ventilated, and your CO producing appliances are all well maintained and working properly, you are unlikely to have a serious problem.
What Can You Do To Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
As a matter of fact, in some states, these are compulsory items for all households. You can see which states require CO detectors here.
There are a variety of different types available. You can choose battery powered units, mains powered units that plug in to wall sockets, or mains powered units which have a battery backup system.
Battery powered monitors are great for use where there’s no convenient mains socket nearby – but be sure to check the battery from time to time. The manufacturer’s instructions will advise on the appropriate frequency of testing (as a rough guide, once every three months should be your maximum time between tests).
Mains powered units are best where there is a suitable power outlet, and mains power with battery back up are best of all.
As a little food for thought, when there’s a power outage, many households will use heat sources involving combustion. These might be portable gas space heaters, camping stoves or just an open fire. That’s why there’s often an increase in carbon monoxide poisoning during power outages, and that’s why mains powered units are best when they come with a battery backup.
If you have a multi-level home, you should have carbon monoxide alarms on all floors, including the basement and the attic if it’s used.
Position a CO detector anywhere you have a potential source of carbon monoxide. However, in order to avoid false alarms, keep them at least 15 feet away from sources such as gas stoves, boilers, fires etc.
You should also avoid placing carbon monoxide alarms in high humidity areas such as bathrooms. Don’t put them in direct sunlight either or immediately adjacent to any appliances which generate a lot of heat.
One of the important things to bear in mind is that you will absolutely want your CO alarm to wake you if the carbon monoxide concentration increases to dangerous levels while you’re asleep. With that in mind, you might want to position one in, or near to the master bedroom. Check the volume of the alarm and position it accordingly.
It’s also worth noting that you can get combined smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Those are a great idea as combining the two features means that you can get added peace of mind and cut down on the number of checks you need to do and batteries that you need to replace periodically.
Here’s a short video which shows you how to position, install and maintain your carbon monoxide detectors: