How Carbon Monoxide Alarms Save Lives

A carbon monoxide alarm is responsible for alerting you and other residents of a leak in your home. Carbon monoxide is dangerous because it can quickly starve your body of oxygen, yet is difficult to detect without a carbon monoxide alarm system.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 20,000 Americans visit the emergency room each year for carbon monoxide poisoning. Since carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, it becomes all the more important that you invest in a smoke and carbon monoxide detector.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas that’s produced during the process of burning fuel, such as wood, gasoline, and propane. The fact that it has no color or odor makes it dangerous, as it’s hard to know if it is present in the air. However, it is sometimes mixed in with other gases that do have a scent, so the presence of a scent does not rule out carbon monoxide.

When you breathe in too much carbon monoxide, your body can’t transport oxygen to your vital organs. This is especially dangerous for people who are asleep or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as they will likely not notice any symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning until it’s too late.

How Carbon Monoxide Alarms Work

Carbon monoxide alarms work by sensing when there is a certain amount of carbon monoxide in your home. The alarm can be triggered by different mechanisms depending on the model, such as through color changing gel, lowered electrical resistance, or changes in electrical currents. Once a carbon monoxide alarm has gone off, you won’t be able to reset it until there is no more carbon monoxide in the air.

Causes of Carbon Monoxide Leaks

Carbon monoxide can be created when fuels like oil, natural gas, wood, coal, and propane aren’t able to burn completely. For this reason, any household appliance in your home could be the source of a carbon monoxide leak. It’s important to install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home so leaks can be found as soon as possible before anyone gets hurt.

Other precautions to take include venting your appliances, avoiding running a car or generator in an enclosed area, cleaning your chimney regularly, and using all appliances as intended.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Part of the reason that carbon monoxide is so dangerous is the fact that the symptoms it provokes can be subtle. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Dull headache
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

Keep in mind that young children, the elderly, and animals will be more susceptible to the health effects of carbon monoxide. If you notice any of the symptoms in yourself or a loved one, get emergency medical help. An easy way to see if carbon monoxide is causing your symptoms is if you notice your symptoms always lessen when outside the house.

Since the symptoms mimic those of the flu, it can be difficult to properly diagnose symptoms unless you have a carbon monoxide leak alarm installed by a licensed electrician.

READ MORE: 5 Electrical Tips to Keep Your Family Safe >>

Steps after Carbon Monoxide Leak

If the carbon monoxide detector goes off, it is important to get all people and pets outside of the house. The longer you breathe in carbon monoxide, the more permanent damage you could be causing to your body. Open windows as you escape the house if you are able to do so. Do not stop to pack belongings and do not go back in the house.

You’ll need to call your local fire department if you suspect a carbon monoxide leak and get you and your family in to see an emergency room doctor as soon as possible for carbon monoxide poisoning. The earlier you are able to detect a carbon monoxide leak, the better your chances for full recovery, which is why we always recommend smoke and carbon monoxide alarms for every household.

Call Our Electricians Today

The Grand Rapids electricians at Flat River Electric are dedicated to helping customers keep their homes safe from fires and carbon monoxide leaks. If you are interested in carbon monoxide alarm installation, give us a call at (616) 987-0596.

[This blog post has been updated.]