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The Silent Killer: Selecting an Effective
Carbon Monoxide Detector that can Save Lives
Next to a smoke alarm, a carbon monoxide detector may be the most important
item you have in your home. Without the aid of a detector, it would be
virtually impossible to know if carbon monoxide at dangerous levels was
present in your home. Unfortunately, carbon monoxide (CO) cannot be seen
or smelled, and because it can have deadly effects within minutes, it
is necessary to have a functioning detector in your home. There are three
different types of carbon monoxide detectors, each with their own unique
features. Before purchasing a detector, know the differences between each
model and be clear about how many detectors you want to have in your home.
Biomimetic CO Detector
The biomimetic CO detector has an internal gel cell that is made of synthetic
hemoglobin that works to absorb the CO. It is crucial that the battery
and sensory module be replaced every two to three years, but the detector
itself should last approximately 10 years. If the detector is activated,
the sensor should clear itself generally within 2 to 48 hours. To clear
the sensor, you must let it sit in fresh air otherwise the sensor will
immediately sound off again when put back in the detector. If you find
that your sensor does not clear, you must replace the part.
Metal-Oxide Semiconductor CO Detector (or MOS)
A MOS CO detector is a plug-in unit that is equipped with an electronic
sensor. This model is a good choice for people who are looking for a device
that requires minimal maintenance. Typically, this model lasts from 5
to 10 years and units are available with long lasting battery backup.
Electrochemical CO Detector
An electrochemical detector works by responding differently to the varying
levels of CO exposure. This device has a self-powered battery that does
not need to be replaced, a digital readout and a memory feature that will
display CO readings from the past. These detectors usually last for at
least 5 years.
Don’t forget to also look for…
Which ever CO detector you buy, don’t
forget to also look for these features:
- The peak CO memory feature will typically appear on higher-end models
and is a display that remembers the highest levels of CO over a certain
time period. This feature is useful for emergency personnel when trying
to determine the severity of the CO problem.
- If someone in your family is hard of hearing,
buy a carbon monoxide detector that has special
light features. During an alarm, not only
will the alarm go off but a light will also
flash. Look for an alarm that has an easy-to-read
light-emitting diode (LED).
- Look for a model that has a power supply
backup feature. Typically, your CO detector
will stop working when there is a power outage;
however, with a power supply backup feature,
this will not occur.
- Make sure that you are buying the newest
device available. To do this, open the package
and find the date of manufacture that is stamped
on the back.
- Know the different sounds that your detector
makes. A loud and continuous alarm sound should
alert you to an emergency, while a repetitive
beep every minute tells you that something
is wrong with your detector.
- You should have a minimum of one smoke detector
and one CO detector in your home. There is
no harm in having more than one detector of
either kind, but you should have at least
one of each.