From 1999–2010, a total of 5,149 deaths from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning occurred in the United States — an average of 430 deaths per year.(http://www.cdc.gov)
Carbon monoxide is a gas produced by burning gas, wood, propane, charcoal or other fuel. Normally, the amount of carbon monoxide emitted by these sources are at safe levels. It can accumulate though to dangerous levels if appliances or engines are not properly ventilated, such as when these are in enclosed or sealed spaces.
When there is an elevated amount of carbon monoxide in the air one is breathing, the oxygen in the body’s red blood cells is replaced with carbon monoxide, limiting or cutting off the oxygen which goes into the tissues and organs – causing sudden illness or death.
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dull headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, vomiting, confusion, blurred vision, loss of consciousness (www.mayoclinic.org). People who are sleeping or are alcohol-intoxicated when poisoned are at risk of dozing off after onset of the early symptoms, not being able to leave the room or house to get fresh air or to get the needed medical attention.
Carbon monoxide is notorious for being a silent killer because of its odorless, colorless and tasteless properties. The warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning can easily go undetected. A carbon monoxide detector is usually the only way of knowing that carbon monoxide has accumulated inside the home. This is triggered and beeps intermittently when carbon monoxide readings reach a dangerous level.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that carbon monoxide detectors be located near sleeping areas (www.homesafe.com). Sensors at every level and each bedroom of the home provide wider protection.
Carbon monoxide sensors are to be mounted on the wall or ceiling, at least 5 feet from the floor since carbon monoxide rises with warm air. To avoid false alarms, these should not be placed in close proximity to fuel-burning appliances or heating equipment as these could emit small amounts of carbon monoxide at start-up. Also to be avoided are areas of high humidity such as bathrooms or where temperatures can go to extremes (with direct sunlight or near sources of blowing air like the air conditioner or ceiling fans).
The more the exposure, the higher the risk and so swiftly take action when the carbon monoxide sensor beeps –
- Make all household members vacate the affected space or house. Go outdoors for clean air.
- If, for some reason such as disability, a household member cannot immediately go or be moved outside, vent the home (open doors and windows) and turn off all appliances.
- If the carbon monoxide detectors are linked to a home security monitoring system, wait outside the home for emergency services to arrive.
- Should there be any symptoms of carbon monoxide intoxication, quickly get medical help. Call 9-1-1 or go to the hospital.
- Do not re-enter the house until emergency services or qualified technicians have indicated that it is safe to return and have reset the sensors.
Home security system companies offer more than just protection from burglary. For the homeowners’ even greater peace of mind, they also extend added protection from environmental threats such as fire, flooding and carbon monoxide poisoning.