Carbon monoxide, also known as the silent killer, is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. Over-exposure to carbon monoxide can result in symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, weakness, flu-like symptoms and neurological impairment. Each year, 20,000 people visit emergency rooms for poisoning from carbon monoxide, with 4,000 of those cases resulting in hospitalization. In the U.S. alone, there are around 72,000 carbon monoxide poisoning incidents a year. (Click here for more info.)
As parents, we make sure we put helmets on our kids’ heads when they ride bikes, make sure that cuts are properly cleaned, and buckle their seatbelts in the car. Often times, though, we overlook dangers lurking in our own homes. Carbon monoxide, one such danger, is a gas that has no odor, color, or taste and can be emitted by water heaters, furnaces, fireplaces, generators, space heaters, wood burning stoves, vehicles, and many other things. Yet, 50% of homes do not have a working carbon monoxide alarm, which alerts occupants to dangerous carbon monoxide levels within the home.
For years, we have used Kidde smoke detectors, so I was excited when Kidde sent me one of their CO alarms – the Night Hawk – to test drive. This high tech gadget plugs into an outlet and also comes with a lithium battery. The battery lasts for 10 years, which is twice as long as the battery in most carbon monoxide alarms. It also means that there will not be annoying chirping noises to ruin a good night’s rest. (I’ve got kids and a cat that do that for me, so I don’t need any additional annoying sounds.) At approximately 2×5 inches, it isn’t small, but it manages not to be visually obtrusive.
The alarm is tamper-resistant, which is great because my 15 month-old does his best to tamper with it. Too bad Kidde doesn’t make tamper-resistant remote controls, because that boy is always changing the channel on me.
The alarm costs between $40 and $50 at Home Depot, which is a great bargain considering it will last you for the next 10 years. You should install at least one alarm on every floor of your house, and can put one in each bedroom, if you want to be extra cautious.
Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.