protect your family from carbon monoxide

protect your family from carbon monoxide

Written By

PJ Feinstein

A couple of years ago, while my husband was deployed, I returned home after an enjoyable dinner at a friend’s house to the carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in my basement, kitchen, and upstairs hallway all beeping simultaneously.

CO is called the “silent killer” because it’s a gas that you can’t see, taste or smell. My 13-lb. dog was sitting in his kennel looking startled but not sick, and I quickly took him outside for fresh air. Then I called my parents to freak out, who reminded me that I should be calling 9-1-1 in an emergency situation—not them. Duh.

The 9-1-1 operator connected me to the fire department, and when I explained the situation to them, they advised me to wait outside or in my car until they arrived (it was a dark and cold December night). Luckily, they were at my house within ten minutes.

Using their carbon monoxide (CO) detectors, the firefighters found above-normal traces of carbon monoxide in my house—nothing life threatening but still a concern. They had their dispatch contact the local utility company to come check my furnace and hot water heater more thoroughly and recommended that I spend the night with friends (which I did).

Luckily, the utilities person did not find the furnace or the hot water heater to be faulty. His guess was that carbon monoxide from my car in the garage was leaking into the house.

The moral of the story . . .

If you don’t already have CO detectors installed on every level in your house (and ideally outside each separate sleeping area), run—don’t walk—to your nearest home improvement store.

Better yet, check out Vivint’s carbon monoxide alarm, which is included in their home security, energy management, home automation packages. It can detect increased levels of CO early because it’s built on an electrochemical detector with a five-year sensor life.

However, in my opinion, the major benefit to Vivint’s CO detector is you get 24x7x365 assistance and support from Vivint’s central monitoring station. If I had had a Vivint carbon monoxide detector back on that December night, Vivint’s monitoring station would have contacted me shortly after it went off. That type of quick response is invaluable in emergency situations.

Here are a couple of additional things to know about carbon monoxide and CO alarms:

* You need both CO and smoke alarms. One is not a substitute for the other.

* Test CO alarms monthly because their sensors tend to have a limited lifespan.

* Have fuel-burning heating equipment like fireplaces, furnaces, and water heaters inspected annually by a professional.

* To warm your vehicle in the winter, back it into the driveway after starting it. Never keep your car running in your garage, even if the garage door is open.

Source: U.S. Fire Administration