Carbon Monoxide Alarm: 6 Things To Know Before You Choose One!

On a cold winter’s morning, it might seem like a good idea to run your car in the garage before a long commute. But did you know? The emissions from your vehicle can fill your entire garage with carbon monoxide (CO)—a dangerous gas—even if the garage door is open! At this stage inhaling that can become almost natural unless you have a carbon monoxide alarm to warn you of this deadly gas. CO binds with your red blood cells and starves your body of oxygen after entering your lungs. And that is just the easy stages of carbon monoxide poisoning: soon to accompany are cold or flu-like symptoms that are easy to ignore—shortness of breath, nausea, and mild headaches. Disorientation and unconsciousness are also common when levels of carbon monoxide reach 150 parts per million (ppm). Eventually, the symptoms will fester and turn lethal without treatment. 

Fortunately, although carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious risk, it’s very preventable. 

Carbon Monoxide Alarm: 6 Things That Will Help With Your Purchase

1. What is carbon monoxide? 

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that is: 

  • colorless, 
  • odorless, 
  • tasteless,
  • poisonous to humans, 
  • commonly titled the “silent killer” as humans cannot tell when they are around it. 

To deal with this very dangerous gas, a carbon monoxide alarm is a safety device that can alert homeowners of a CO leak and help them escape a potentially life-threatening situation, like carbon monoxide poisoning. One of the benefits of purchasing and installing carbon monoxide alarms is to help detect the poisonous gas and provide early warning. 

In the event of a carbon monoxide leak, you would hear the warning and leave to get fresh air as soon as possible. Every second counts, and alarms can provide you and your family the advanced warning necessary to escape your home during an emergency. 

2. What are the main sources of carbon monoxide leakage?

Carbon monoxide gas can be released by any fuel-burning device. 

The three main sources are in your home are

  • Your home’s furnace, 
  • Dryer vent in a drying machine, and 
  • Fireplace or chimney. 

Essentially this poisonous gas comes when carbon fuel—like wood, gasoline, coal, propane, natural gas, and heating oil—fails to burn 100% through. The good news is that these energy sources aren’t dangerous when you burn them in an open area with plenty of ventilation. When thinking of these sources, it is important to regularly service and clean by a professional to help prevent a CO leak that could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

3. Where do you install carbon monoxide alarms?

It is important to set up CO alarms on every level of your house. 

This will help all family members hear the detectors and be alerted to the emergency. 

Having carbon monoxide detectors in every bedroom, sleeping area, and common room acts as extra safety while you and your family are sleeping. 

4. Where should carbon monoxide alarms be in each room?

Carbon monoxide alarms can be set up anywhere in the room. 

Unlike popular belief that CO is heavier than air, CO alarms can be placed on the wall or the ceiling and will be just as effective.

5. What does it mean if my carbon monoxide alarm is beeping? 

Carbon monoxide alarms are the quickest way to prevent CO poisoning. You can install a carbon monoxide alarm (or multiple detectors) in your home. The alarms function similarly to your fire or smoke alarm by sounding a siren when they detect carbon monoxide. You can find simple models like the Kidde carbon monoxide alarm that set off a siren, or smart detectors like the Google Nest Protect that connect to your smartphone or home security system. 

The carbon monoxide alarm has different beep patterns to communicate in the case of an emergency or simply a need to replace. Therefore, you need to know the difference between the beeps. 

Beeping for replacement: 

  • It is crucial to test your alarms regularly: 
  • Test them at least once monthly. 
  • If your carbon monoxide alarm has replaceable batteries, change them at least every 6 months. 
  • Even after you replace your batteries, carbon monoxide alarms don’t last forever. 
  • These alarms have a lifetime of anywhere between 5 to 7 years, so check the specific lifetime of every product. 

Beeping for emergency situations:

Carbon monoxide alarms beep when they sense a certain amount of carbon monoxide over time. Once the alarm sounds, the carbon monoxide alarm must be in a carbon monoxide-free environment to silence the siren. 

Carbon monoxide alarms will also beep if your sensor detects an accumulation of carbon monoxide in your home—usually before you start sensing symptoms. At lower concentrations (50 ppm), it may extend to eight hours for the alarm to go off. Higher levels (over 150 ppm) can trigger an emergency beeping within minutes.

When an alarm sounds, move out of the house asap! This is because low doses over long periods can be just as dangerous as sudden exposure to carbon monoxide in ultra-high doses. Regular maintenance and inspections can help prevent safety hazards in your home, like a faulty furnace or fireplace. 

Overall, carbon monoxide alarms sense CO fast and alert you with a loud siren – especially in simple models plug into outlets or use a battery, like the one on your smoke detector. These models are cheap and suitable for multi-room buildings that need several units spread throughout. 

These days, carbon monoxide alarms also include sensors for both smoke and carbon monoxide. These are an easy option that you can swap out your existing smoke detectors for. They also reduce the number of sensors on your walls or ceilings. You can also find smart models that connect with your home security system or alert you of danger through a mobile app. These models are expensive but can be a wise investment if you want extra safety for kids and pets at home. Ensure everyone in the house can hear when an alarm goes off by placing a CO sensor in or near each of three critical locations in your home. 

6. Where to put carbon monoxide alarm uk?

Carbon monoxide is hazardous in confined spaces—like basements, kitchens, garages, or campers. Carbon monoxide is hard to detect without a sensor, which is one of the reasons it’s so dangerous. 

Fortunately, you can put a carbon monoxide alarm in every level of your house and there is a surprising amount of variety in today’s carbon monoxide sensors. According to fireangel carbon monoxide alarm

“When choosing a CO alarm, always ensure it complies with British Standard EN 50291 and carries a British or European approval mark, such as a Kitemark.

The latest CO alarms such as in FireAngel’s SONA range –  the battery powered CO alarm uses Wi-Safe 2 wireless technology to intelligently interlink all smoke, heat and CO alarms in the property to offer an enhanced level of protection to tenants. Therefore, if the carbon monoxide alarm activates in the kitchen, then the other interlinked smoke and heat alarms throughout the property will sound.

These interlinked alarms will also mimic the sound pattern of the triggering alarm. For example, if a CO alarm activates, then the smoke alarms will mimic its sound pattern. This allows the tenant to act accordingly e.g. by evacuating in a smoke alarm, or by opening all the windows, turning off all fuel-burning appliances and then evacuating in a CO alarm sound pattern. 

Furthermore, identification of the sounding alarm (by silencing all the others) can be easily done in a Wi-Safe 2 network, by either pressing a button on the sounding alarm or using a control unit’s ‘locate function’. This provides tenants with a means to quickly identify the source of the problem, and so quickly respond.”

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