Do I Need a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

By Crystal Newton on Feb 2nd, 2015 10:48 AM

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Carbon monoxide can spread through a home in quite the discrete manner. It is an invisible, odorless and tasteless gas. Carbon monoxide molecules are a combination of a single oxygen atom with a single carbon atom. This gas results when fossil fuels fail to complete combustion. Examples of common fossil fuels used in the home include charcoal, kerosene, wood, oil, propane, gasoline and natural gas. The gas can enter the air from a number of flame fueled devices like ovens, ranges, clothes dryers, furnaces, grills, water heaters, space heaters and fireplaces. The most common cause of carbon monoxide is open flames from ovens and ranges. If you use any of the above mentioned devices in your home, it is prudent to install a carbon monoxide detector.

Your home's carbon monoxide detector will trigger an alarm when a certain amount of carbon monoxide is accumulated over a specific time period. Detectors are based on either chemical reactions that cause a color change, an electrochemical reaction that creates a current to trigger the alarm or a semiconductor sensor that alters its electrical resistance when carbon monoxide is present in dangerous levels. All it takes to keep a carbon monoxide detector up and running is a continuous power supply. If the home's power is off, the detector will not operate. Yet there are models available that have a backup battery to maintain operation in the event of a power failure.

When people are exposed to substantial amounts of carbon monoxide in a short period of time they can be severely harmed. Individuals can also be harmed when exposed to low levels of carbon monoxide across an extended period of time. When carbon monoxide is inhaled, it moves from the lungs to the red blood cells' hemoglobin molecules. Here, it binds with the hemoglobin and creates carboxyhemoglobin. This then blocks the transport of oxygen and the body suffers tissue damage and in the worst case scenario, death. If an individual is exposed to a very low level of carbon monoxide poisoning, he will likely experience the symptoms that commonly occur with a cold or the flu. He will have nausea, headaches and shortness of breath.

When an individual is exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide poisoning, he will be dizzy, confused, suffer severe headaches and could even faint. It can result in permanent brain damage and has a lethal capacity. This is why a carbon monoxide detector is so critical to a family's safety. It sounds an alarm before the carbon monoxide levels create a reasonable hazard. It is important to note that babies, kids, pregnant women and those with respiratory and circulatory ailments are much more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning than the typical healthy adult.

Install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home. They should be placed on the walls about 5 feet or so above the floor. It is imperative that you place them at this height because carbon monoxide is lighter than regular air and is often found in the warm air that rises above the ground. You can even place the detectors on the ceiling. Just be sure to not place them over the fireplace or an appliance that produces a flame. For more information on how to protect your loved ones and your valuables, check out Bates Security solutions at


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