Five seconds can save a life
Frank Field, MP for Birkenhead recently visited Carbon Monoxide (CO) detection specialist Detectagas Ltd at their premises, to learn how their pioneering technology tests sensors used in CO alarms which are depended upon by families to warn of the presence of harmful levels of CO in the home.
Around 50 people per year in the UK are killed by high concentrations of carbon monoxide. Whilst many hundreds more suffer from the debilitating effects of CO poisoning, ranging from fatigue, headaches, nausea and flu like symptoms through to permanent brain damage. Problems with Carbon Monoxide arise from the incomplete combustion of carbon based fuels, such as gas, oil, coal, coke and other appliances.
Incidents are most evident in Winter as people are more likely to use appliances that may not have been properly serviced. John Stones, Managing Director at Detectagas explained: “If you have a smoke alarm, and happen to burn your toast, the alarm will sound, it’s a bit of a nuisance, but at least you knw the unit works. There is no equivalent way to check the performance of CO detectors in the home; pressing the test button simply tests the circuit, but not the sensor. Unfortunately, sensors in CO alarms are far less reliable than those found in smoke detectors.”
The Detectagas product uses a simple shroud, a specially formulated aerosol and a transfer tube. Once the shroud is placed over the carbon monoxide alarm, a five second pulse of gas is introduced by the tube from the aerosol. The Sensors in the CO detector operate on cycles of six minutes. Therefore, if no alarm is triggered, the sensor has failed and the home owner needs to replace the CO alarm.
“The frightening issue is that sensors in CO alarms last for a maximum of five years, so many homeholders, may have no remaining protection,” said John. As a result, wide interest has been received concerning this product from UK retailers and organisations. The company has also received a lot of interest from the USA, where there are up to 80 million CO detectors in use.