October 3, 2017

Carbon Monoxide: Invisible Killer

Carbon Monoxide is highly poisonous

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a odorless, invisible and tasteless gas that is highly poisonous to humans and animals.  Because of it’s insidious and highly toxic nature, it causes hundreds of deaths in the United States every year.  Between 1999 and 2010 a total of 5,149 deaths from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning occurred in the United States, an average of 430 deaths every year.

Carbon monoxide deaths
Source: National Vital Statistics System. Mortality public use data files, 1999–2010. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data_access/vitalstatsonline.htm.  Deaths are 12-year annual averages, and death rates are per 100,000 with a 12-year annual average population.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Dull headache
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be especially dangerous for people who are sleeping or intoxicated. People may have irreversible brain damage or even die before anyone realizes there is a problem.
The warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning may be subtle. But the condition is a life-threatening medical emergency. If you think you or someone you’re with may have carbon monoxide poisoning, get into fresh air and quickly seek medical care.

What causes carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide comes from the partial burning of carbon-containing compounds.  This happens when there is not enough oxygen during combustion to produce carbon dioxide (CO2).  A stove or an internal combustion engine in an enclosed area can produce an accumulation of carbon monoxide.
The most common sources of CO are motor vehicle exhaust from running automobiles or electric generators, smoke from fires and fumes from engines. Malfunctioning or obstructed engine exhaust systems are often a source. Other sources include cigarette smoke, boat engines, charcoal grills, kerosene space heaters, gas water heaters, and smoke inhalation from burning wood or brush within wildfires.

Carbon monoxide detectors

Non-monitored detectors

A number of carbon monoxide detectors are available. Simple, un-monitored battery-powered detectors make a loud alert that can be heard by family members who happen to be within earshot from the detector. These devices cannot be monitored by a alarm monitoring facility. One concern is if residents return to a home filled with carbon monoxide. The detector may have sounded but the battery could be consumed by the time the residents return. Without monitoring, the carbon monoxide detector is rendered totally ineffective.

Monitored detectors

Monitored carbon monoxide detectors are designed to alert emergency response or notify you if you are away from home. Monitoring is also highly recommended because family members could be confused when awakened by an alert sound they seldom or never heard. Children may not know what to do. With a monitored system, monitoring personnel can call residents and give clear instructions – after alerting emergency responders.

Solutions we offer

Executive Electronics offers carbon monoxide detectors manufactured by System Sensor and it’s parent company, Honeywell. Our carbon monoxide detectors are designed to report an alarm condition to our alarm monitoring center. These sensors come in both wireless and hardwired models and are capable of being integrated into an existing security/fire alarm system.
System Sensor COSMO carbon monoxide detector

Carbon monoxide detectors save lives!

Read this letter from an Executive Electronics client’s horrifying experience during Hurricane Irma and how our system protected his family.

Further reading

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