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How to Protect Your Family From Carbon Monoxide

Friday, August 10, 2018

Thank you First Alert for sponsoring this post. Don’t let the beep steal your sleep.

We do so many things to keep our families safe, but sometimes the simplest precautions are the most likely to get overlooked. Take carbon monoxide detectors for example. Do you have them throughout your home and are you certain they are in good working order?

I'm ashamed to say that, until recently, this was a NO for us! Our home was a built a year before a law in Colorado began requiring carbon monoxide detectors went into effect, so none were installed when we bought the home. When our first baby was born three years after we moved in to our house, we finally bought a CO detector for the nursery and for our bedroom. But six years later, these were still the only rooms in our home that were protected. 

I won't even pretend to make excuses for this... it's just a flat out bad decision! Even if you are a step ahead of us and already have carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home, there's a good chance they could be expired or expiring soon. I've committed to take the simple step necessary to keep my family safe, and I'm proud to be partnering with First Alert to make sure that your family is protected as well!



Let's start with some of the basics that you need to understand to appreciate the danger that carbon monoxide poses, and then I'll tell you what you need to know to keep your family safe!


WHAT IS CARBON MONOXIDE?

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless and deadly gas. It is the second most common cause of non-medicinal poisonings death, and according to the CDC, more than 400 Americans annually from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized.

WHAT CAUSES CARBON MONOXIDE IN HOMES?

Carbon monoxide can be produced by any fuel-burning device, including furnaces, boilers, stoves, and even cars. Some of the most likely sources of carbon monoxide in your home are your gas burning stove, furnace, dryer vent, chimney, or attached garage. 

This means that every home is at risk of a carbon monoxide. Fortunately though, CO alarms detect this poisonous gas and provide an early warning. Of course, to properly protect your family, you need to have carbon monoxide detectors installed throughout the house, you need to ensure that they are in good working order, and you need to have a plan for what to do if a carbon monoxide is detected in your home.

WHERE SHOULD CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS BE INSTALLED?

First Alert sent me a CO Safety Kit to get our family started on the right track. When we started unpacking the box, my kids were thrilled to find a coloring book. As we flipped through the pages of activities, an illustration of a house caught my eye and quickly answered one of by biggest questions. 

It is recommended that you should have a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, including the basement, and in each bedroom; a smoke detector on each level of your home, in each bedroom, and each hallway; and a fire extinguisher on each level, including in the living room, kitchen, hallway, basement, and garage. 

Carbon Monoxide Detector Location

HOW TO INSTALL A CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR

The safety kit I received from First Alert included several different types of carbon monoxide detectors, including ones that can be hard wired, battery operated detectors with wall and ceiling mounts, plug in detectors with battery backups, and a tabletop version.

First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarms

First Alert's wide variety of CO alarms made it easy for us to choose the best installation type for each room in our home. Here's an overview of the CO detectors we've installed:
The ceilings are high in our living room, making it difficult for my short self to reach with a standard ladder. Rather than trying to install a CO detector on the living room ceiling, I was able to simply plug in a CO detector with a battery backup that allows for continuous monitoring, even during power outages.

Plug in carbon monoxide alarms

Carbon Monoxide Alarm with 10-Year Battery and Digital Temperature Display

For our guest room, I chose the tabletop carbon monoxide detector with a stylish design that can sit right on a nightstand or dresser.

tabletop carbon monoxide alarm in guest room

I love that it blends in so seamlessly with our decor, while still providing all the protection we need! This CO detector alert has an easy-to-read backlit digital display that shows the temperature and CO concentration. It alerts you to elevated carbon monoxide levels, and has a loud, 85-decible alarm when CO levels become unsafe. The built-in, 10-year battery offers continuous protection for the life of the carbon monoxide detector.

First Alert tabletop carbon monoxide alarm

Combination Photoelectric Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm with 10-Year Battery and Voice and Location

In our master bedroom, we replaced our original smoke detector with an easy to install, slim design combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm. This programmable talking alarm speaks to indicate the type and location of the detected threat. It has a photoelectric sensor that detects smoke while minimizing false alarms and an electrochemical sensor alerts you to carbon monoxide danger from multiple sources. The built-in 10-year battery provides continuous power for the entire life of the detector.


For those of your who love smart home technology, you might also be interested in the First Alert Onelink Safe & Sound smart smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm that we installed in the boys' room last month. In addition to it's safety features, it is also an Alexa-enabled premium speaker and nightlight. The boys are crazy about it (and so are mom and dad)! You can read all about it in this post.


WHEN SHOULD CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS BE REPLACED?


The useful life of many carbon monoxide detectors is only seven years, so it's important that you know when it's time to replace them in order to keep your family safe. Carbon monoxide alarms have an end of life warning beep to let you know that it's time to replace the devise.

Many states adopted new building codes that took effect in 2011 requiring CO alarms. This means that one-and-two-family homes built around this time have carbon monoxide alarms whose useful life of seven years is expiring, or will expire, soon. The states affected are California, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Be sure to check the legislation in your state.

You should test your CO alarms regularly to ensure that they are working properly. If your carbon monoxide alarms have replaceable batteries (unlike my new CO detectors that have sealed, 10-year life batteries), the batteries should be changed every 6 months. An easy way to remember is to the change the batteries concurrent with the time change in the spring and fall.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM SOUNDS


If your CO alarm sounds, you should leave your home immediately for fresh air and then call 911. Create a family plan, including discussing escape routes and establishing a meeting location outside your home, and practice it to make sure your kids know what to do in an emergency.


How to Protect Your Family From Carbon Monoxide

LEARN MORE ABOUT CARBON MONOXIDE SAFETY


I'm embarrassed to admit how remiss we'd been about carbon monoxide safety in the past! Installing CO detectors all throughout our home was quick and easy, and something we should have done a long time ago. I encourage you to watch this informative safety video from First Alert, check the expiration date on your CO detectors, and add CO alarms in the appropriate locations if your home is not already fully protected.



I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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