If you are aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide you might decide to buy a carbon monoxide detector to give you early warning of its presence in your home. You can’t see it, you can’t taste or sense in anyway so getting an alarm is a good way of checking whether this toxic gas is lurking near your gas boiler.

If you check online or in a printed catalogue you will see that there are a number of different types of detector. We are talking of carbon monoxide here, not smoke alarms which are commonplace and subject of a different article.

Detector standards are covered by the relevant British standards and you should check that the one you purchase is so annotated. The best portable alarms have a five-year battery, this will save you repeatedly checking for the expiry date. There are also mains driven detectors which can be plugged into a local socket near to the gas appliance. Of course you should just use any socket, there are specific installation requirements for these detectors to ensure that they operate properly and detect the gas you are seeking to protect yourself against. He would be pointless to buy and alarm, no matter how inexpensive, and then carelessly install it so that it actually was quite in effective.

A low-cost alternative, probably better for one-off tests, is an impregnated paper based detector which visually gives an indication of the presence of carbon monoxide through the change in colour of chemicals on a card. Lacking a loud alarm this carbon monoxide detectors are somewhat lacking in usability as they cannot alert you to a problem other than when you are looking directly at the test spot.

As with any device there are specific installation requirements and you should follow the manufacturers instructions in this regard. One important aspect to consider with the electronic alarms is to ensure that you can hear the noise when you are in a different room. They need to be position in the room that has the gas appliance but an alarm is no good if you cannot hear it so test this before you purchase.

Without an installed carbon monoxide detector your family would have no warning of rising CO levels in the room. Properly installed detectors monitor carbon monoxide levels over time and are designed to sound an alarm before an average, healthy adult would experience symptoms of poisoning. Smoke detectors are installed near the ceiling as smoke rises, this is not true of carbon monoxide and hence these detectors can be installed lower on the wall. For maximum effectiveness during sleeping hours, carbon monoxide detectors should be placed close to sleeping areas.

The best form of protection is to not rely upon some detector that you have purchased rather try to ensure that carbon monoxide is not produced in the first place. Bad ventilation is the root cause of carbon monoxide production in any gas appliance. All appliances have specific installation instructions and these will include a ventilation required. The installer will in almost all circumstances have checked this and ensured that the gas appliance was properly installed and could operate correctly without reducing carbon monoxide.

If over the course of time ventilation becomes restricted you could be operating your gas appliance with insufficient oxygen this may lead to production of carbon monoxide. As this could occur over time it is important that you make a note to regularly check any ventilation grilles which are near gas appliances and certainly those that are in the same room. It is essential to have a gas appliance checked for safety and efficient operation every year. The plumber or gas engineer that does this will check the ventilation as part of the inspection but there is ane opportunity for you to do this perhaps on a quarterly basis which will increase the safety levels for you.

Remember plans grow and obstruct grilles, boxes and Curtains can be put in a room and similarly obstruct a grill. Whether it is organic matter or your own actions the fundamental act of blocking a ventilation duct will in due course increase your risks of unsafe operation of your gas appliances, so take great care that this never happens

Fresh air is the enemy of carbon monoxide and dilutes it or allows it to be driven out of the house. Carbon monoxide is a problem as it gradually accumulates within the body reducing your ability to absorb oxygen hence it is essential to flush away carbon monoxide if it is suspected. Opening the windows can help this and switching off any gas appliances should mean that the source of this deadly gas is cut off.

On a practical point the shorter the period you take action from the time that you hear the alarm on your carbon monoxide detector the better. to address this ask yourself the question do you, or your family, know what this alarm sounds like. There will be a test button on most days detectors, designed so that you can test the appliance, but also very beneficial in helping you to demonstrate, carefully, to your household what the sound of the real alarm sounds like. Their eardrums may protest but make sure that you do test it and ensure everyone is familiar with the sound so that they can take the quickest possible action should your carbon monoxide alarm trigger.

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