Many people have carbon monoxide detectors in their homes to alert them of the presence of this potentially deadly substance. While having this tool in place is certainly advisable, knowing how to react if a carbon monoxide detector beeps is equally as important. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2010, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 80,100 non-fire CO incidents in which carbon monoxide was found, or an average of nine such calls per hour. This increase is most likely due to the adoption of CO detectors in homes and apartments, which alert people to the presence of CO. These staggering statistics help in proving why the presence of a natural gas detector is a must. Before we take a look at what to do if your carbon monoxide tester goes off, let’s deconstruct exactly what they are and how they tick.
CO detectors work to keep you and your family safe by sounding an alarm when a dangerous level of carbon monoxide is in your home. The three most common types of CO detectors have a biometric sensor, a metal oxide semiconductor, and an electrochemical sensor.
A biomimetic sensor uses a gel to detect dangerously high levels of CO in your home. This gel shifts colors when it senses carbon monoxide while another sensor alerts your detector of the change. This will cause the carbon monoxide detector to beep and warn your family.
CO detectors with a metal oxide semiconductor use a silica chip to determine when dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are in your home. When a metal oxide semiconductor recognizes dangerous levels of CO, it lowers the electrical resistance of the circuit it’s connected to. The decrease in electrical resistance makes your carbon monoxide detector beep.
An electrochemical sensor uses electrodes in a chemical solution to alert when your home has high levels of CO. When the levels of carbon monoxide in your home are on the rise, the electrochemical sensor will lower the electrical current and will alarm your detector.
Now that we know the why and how a CO alarm is triggered, let’s look at what to do next:
It is best to vacate the premises of a structure where a carbon monoxide detector is active. A phone call should be made to a local fire department to have the home checked over to determine the reason for the alarm going off. If there is no verifiable reason, the detector may be in need of new batteries or the breaker feeding the electricity to the tester may have been switched to an off position. However, it’s best not to see if this is the case until after the home is checked for and cleared of carbon monoxide.
If someone in the home is displaying signs of illness, there could be carbon monoxide present. The symptoms associated with carbon monoxide exposure include weakness, dull headache, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, dizziness, shortness of breath, confusion, loss of consciousness, and blurred vision. If any of these symptoms are displayed, it is best to remove the person from the home and call for an ambulance immediately. A fire department should also be contacted to evaluate the home for any presence of carbon monoxide.
You should regularly check all your home’s safety devices to ensure they’re working to the best of their abilities. Security system services will have representatives available to visit your home and evaluate any carbon monoxide detectors, as well as other security enhancement features if necessary. Yearly checks are best to determine if there is a need for repair or replacement of these valuable tools.
Protecting your home with a CO detector is a great way to keep harmful toxins out of your home. And with Brinks Home Security ™, you can keep the search for the right detector short. Our life safety technology includes CO detectors small enough for installing anywhere in your home for full protection. When dangerous levels of toxins are in the air, the detectors will sound. This gives your family enough time to take action and seek assistance. When you combine carbon monoxide detectors with professional monitoring, you’re not limiting yourself to just one tier of home security. You’re equipping your home with 24/7/365 professionally monitored systems.
Lauren Slade is a Dallas-based writer and editor.
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