Carbon Monoxide Detector
How Does it Work?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an underestimated health hazard. It is the leading cause of accidental poisoning at home, the impact of which leads to severe cardiovascular and neurobehavioral outcomes and even death.

Carbon monoxide is the second leading cause of poisoning in the United States with the highest risk in Wyoming, Alaska and Montana.
There's a reason why it is called the silent killer. You can't smell it or taste it or see it. It's impossible to know if it's there without the CO detector.
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas consists of one part carbon and one part oxygen. Its source is incompletely burned carbon fuel like wood, gasoline, coal, natural gas, and heating oil.

CO Sources:

  • Running cars in a poorly ventilated, enclosed space can lead to CO toxic level
  • House fires
  • Unvented furnaces, boilers, stoves: malfunctioning heating device
  • Stoves, Grills, and Fireplaces: burn wood or gas they produce CO
  • Smoking: people who smoke tobacco tend to have twice the normal quantity of CO in their bloodstream.
Why is CO dangerous?
Carbon monoxide is fatal, it is impossible to detect CO without a carbon monoxide detector.

At low levels of concentration, the symptoms are: headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Prolonged exposure to moderate or high levels of CO can lead to disorientation, loss of consciousness, convulsions, and cardiac arrest. CO reduces blood oxygen and impairs the discharge of oxygen in tissues

When burned in the area with plenty of ventilation (outdoors), CO impact isn't dangerous. It becomes hazardous only in an enclosed indoor space: basement, kitchen or garage.

Indoor CO concentrations are generally low. Dangerous levels are subject to poor ventilation. CO is emitted from poorly maintained or improperly ventilated appliances such as stoves, fireplaces, and gas stoves. Indoor smoking also contributes to CO levels.

CO can enter the room from the outside. Vehicles are the main source of gas, especially when they remain idle for a long time near open windows and air intakes, also in attached garages.
Image derived from Wikimedia Commons
How to detect carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide detectors are a quick way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. You can install a carbon monoxide detector yourself, following the instructions. When carbon monoxide is detected - the alarm starts.

There are two types of detectors: simple systems - with an alarm siren and more complex, that connect to the phone (Google Assistant or Alexa) or home security system.
How do carbon monoxide detectors work?
Carbon monoxide detectors are a quick way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. You can install a carbon monoxide detector yourself, following the instructions. When carbon monoxide is detected - the alarm starts.

There are two types of detectors: simple systems - with an alarm siren and more complex, that connect to the phone (Google Assistant or Alexa) or home security system.
Where to place a carbon monoxide detector?
To maintain home security against high CO levels , place detectors in certain key areas.

  • Each level of the house should have a monitor. Basement and attic are also considered as levels.
  • Near bedrooms. Alarm sound should be heard even when you're asleep.
  • Next to the attached garages. Cars release carbon monoxide when running, the gas can seep into the house through garage.
  • Any place state laws recommend. Certain states have specific regulations around CO monitor placement.
Install CO alarms in your home and check them twice a year.
Download the PDF How Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from NYC Poison Control Center
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