Home Improvement

Smoke and CO Detectors: The Forgotten Part of Home Security

Smoke and CO Detectors
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Mention wireless home security and the average person will immediately think of burglary. Perhaps that is because we have all seen too many TV commercials showing burglars lurking outside the window while the family sits and watches TV. Burglary is certainly a major aspect of home security protection. Yet safety does not begin and end there. Other threats like fire and carbon monoxide (CO) are just as real.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are just as important as motion sensors, perhaps even more so. At least burglars can be seen and heard easily. CO is colorless and odorless, making it especially deadly, while smoke can overwhelm long before occupants of the home realize they have a serious problem on their hands.

Making Your Home Defensible

The University of Nevada Reno (UNR) recently held a series of workshops designed to educate local residents about living with fire. As you know, wildfires have destroyed thousands of acres in the West. Much of the damage has occurred in Nevada.

While the UNR seminars dealt primarily with the major threat of wild fires, one of the topics covered by the experts is equally applicable to typical house fires: creating a defensible space that minimizes the risks of fire as much as possible. The whole concept of creating a defensible space is more about mitigating the effects of fire than preventing it outright.

Mitigating fire damage requires looking at several things:

  • Fast and safe evacuations
  • Accounting for all family members
  • Preventing the spread of a fire.

In terms of fast and safe evacuations, we have all heard the fire department suggestion to plan evacuation routes and practice them regularly. That is a good idea. We are also familiar with warnings to make sure sufficient smoke alarms are installed and routinely checked. That also makes sense, given the fact that you are not likely to evacuate your home if you don’t know a threat exists. Smoke detectors alert a family to such threats.

Two Silent Killers

Vivint Smart Home, a nationally known home automation and security firm, normally recommends customers install both smoke and CO detectors. Why? Because smoke and CO are silent killers. Both can take lives without victims ever knowing there is a problem.

In a typical residential house fire, smoke overwhelms the house faster than the fire spreads. And because of all the synthetic materials in our homes, that smoke is filled with all sorts of toxic chemicals. A person sleeping when a fire breaks out could be rendered unconscious via smoke inhalation without any knowledge the fire is burning. Continuing to breathe in toxic smoke can kill.

Carbon monoxide is even more dangerous. It kills by binding itself to oxygen molecules, thereby preventing the brain from utilizing oxygen in the bloodstream. Just a few minutes of moderate CO intake can kill a person.

The big danger from CO is that it has no odor or color. That is why utility companies add a scent to natural gas, a scent that smells like rotten eggs. It is designed to alert consumers to a gas leak or improper CO ventilation. CO detectors pick up on the presence of carbon monoxide and warn accordingly.

The experts at the University of Nevada Reno undoubtedly know the importance of smoke and CO detectors in the home. Do you? If you have a home security system without connected smoke and CO detectors, it is time to change that. And if you do not have a home security system, at least install some detectors in your house. Don’t let them remain the forgotten part of home security.

Kelly Passarelly
My name is Blake Gowing, a writer. I have written for various publications including The Daily Life and their needs.

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