What you should know about monoxide detectors

Carbon monoxide detectors are the best defenders against a silent threat.

The odorless, colorless and tasteless gas (carbon monoxide) can infiltrate homes through a number of sources and it is lethal. Some of these sources include oil/gas furnaces, generators, vehicles, stoves or ranges and gas leaks.

Carbon monoxide detectors are just as important as smoke detectors and the need for them cannot be understated. Luckily, these detectors are effective and inexpensive.

Carbon monoxide detectors alert residents of a gas’s presence in a number of ways:

  • Some utilize biomimetic sensing. This occurs through a gel that absorbs gas and triggers an alarm upon changing colors.
  • Semiconductor sensors function through electrical resistance. The chip’s circuitry detects the gas and kicks in a change in resistance to sound an alarm.
  • Electrochemical sensors rely on electrical current. The electrodes inside the device are covered in a solution that detects gas. When the sensor notices a change, the alarm sounds off.

Since carbon monoxide is so dangerous, these alarm sounds will not stop until the environment is free from detectable carbon monoxide.

Depending on where you live, local and state laws will have varying requirements on the type of setup you need. The National Fire Protection Agency recommends putting these devices near bedroom doors, on each level of your house and other locations required by law.

Not all detectors are battery operated. Plug-in devices can be slightly more difficult to install because a power outlet is needed, while battery-operated devices can be affixed virtually anywhere in the home.

These devices can also be linked. This hookup will allow every alarm in a house to sound off concurrently.

Installing these devices are easy to do and can save lives, but it is not the only way to help prevent accidental poisoning. In addition to setting up an appropriate number of detectors throughout your home, make sure to also inspect your chimney and/or furnace annually. Also, have gas-burning appliances installed and maintained by a professional.

Finally, try to test your carbon monoxide detectors at least one time per month.

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