Tasteless, colorless, odorless...and deadly. A byproduct of fossil fuels, carbon monoxide (CO) is a silent killer that kills about 170 people in America each year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Most people become victims of CO poisoning while asleep in their homes. Needless to say, if you've chosen a new house plan and are building a home, installing the best carbon monoxide detectors should be a top priority.
WHY DO YOU NEED CO DETECTORS IN YOUR HOME?
The reason carbon monoxide is so dangerous is that humans can't detect its presence. CO is produced by the burning of fuels like natural gas, oil, coal, kerosene, wood and others—many of which are used in our homes. When furnaces and fireplaces are working effectively, the gas is vented harmlessly away from humans, but if a furnace malfunctions or vents become obstructed, for example, carbon monoxide can build to dangerous levels inside the home before anyone is aware. Carbon monoxide detectors in the home monitor the air and sound an alarm if CO gas reaches dangerous levels. If the alarm sounds, everyone should exit the home immediately and call for help.
Personal safety notwithstanding, you may also be required by law to install carbon monoxide detectors in your home. It's the law in 25 of the 50 states.
COMMON FEATURES OF CO DETECTORS
As with anything else, carbon monoxide detectors come at a variety of price points and with various features. Most will do the basic job of warning you when CO levels are too high, but there are some features you may desire above others. The most sophisticated models, for example, may give a readout of the exact levels of carbon monoxide in parts per million (PPM), although the specific number may be irrelevant to most people. Some CO detectors have differing alarms depending on how much CO is detected. Some are designed to interact with other detectors throughout the home so each detector will sound when one unit detects a high concentration of CO. Some are battery powered, while others can be wired into the home's electrical system.
Many of these features are optional, of course, but perhaps the most important factor to consider is that the unit needs to work consistently. If you purchase a battery-powered detector, make sure the unit is designed to alert you when the battery gets low. If you purchase a wired unit, make sure it has a battery backup in case the power goes out.
HOW AND WHERE TO INSTALL CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS
Placement of your carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home is important to ensure the safety of your family. You should have at least one detector on every floor of your home, preferably placed within 10-15 feet of each sleeping area in the home. For proper readings, avoid placing them near fuel burning devices like furnaces or fireplaces, or behind curtains or other areas of obstruction. Finally, try to place your CO detectors in areas where the air is relatively still, away from ceiling fans or vents that move the air, as these can actually mask the true levels of carbon monoxide in the air.
There are many options available, but with a bit of forethought, installing the best carbon monoxide detectors for your needs will give you peace of mind and help ensure your family's safety within your new home.