An Overview of Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide (CO) has been called the "silent" and "invisible killer" because it's a scentless, colorless, and tasteless toxic gas. It's the number one cause of death due to poisoning in America. Any time you burn something—like gasoline, natural gas, wood, oil, propane, or charcoal—carbon monoxide is released into the air. In outdoor spaces, this usually isn't a health hazard because there is enough area to dissipate and particles never amount to a toxic level. The danger comes when carbon monoxide is released in a contained area like your home, RV, or garage.
You won't know from taste, smell, or sight that carbon monoxide is poisoning you, but your body will. If you have carbon monoxide poisoning, you may feel dizzy, become nauseous or throw up, develop a headache, get confused, and/or pass out.
Every year, 400 people die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning (from fuel burning, not fires) and 20,000 are admitted to the emergency room. If you become unconscious while carbon monoxide is filling your home, your odds of dying or becoming very ill are frighteningly high. That's where carbon monoxide detectors come into play. Once installed, they can alert you about high levels of carbon monoxide in your home and help you get to safety immediately.
What is a carbon monoxide detector?
Carbon monoxide detectors are a lot like smoke detectors, but instead of looking for signs of fire, they detect levels of carbon monoxide. Depending on the brand, detectors operate in one of three ways: with a biomimetic sensor, metal oxide semiconductor, or electrochemical sensor.
Biometric sensors use gels that change color after absorbing a certain amount of carbon monoxide. Metal oxide semiconductors have silica chips that send electrical signals to trigger an alarm. Electrochemical sensors are considered to be the best in the industry. They use chemical solutions and electrodes that release currents to sound an alarm.
You'll want to install carbon monoxide detectors like smoke detectors—on every level of your home. For areas with more carbon monoxide producing appliances, like your kitchen, garage, and basement, you should install multiple detectors.