Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be fatal if found in dangerous levels in your home — and scarily, it can be undetectable until it’s too late. Appliances like ovens, furnaces and water heaters, as well as engines like the one in your car, can all be sources of carbon monoxide. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are sometimes described as “flu-like” and include headaches, dizziness, weakness, vomiting and confusion, and can also go unnoticed until it’s too late.
That’s why it’s essential for your home to have a carbon monoxide detector. Similar to smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors protect your family from an unlikely but very real risk.
Thankfully, carbon monoxide detectors are an affordable and effective way to alert you as soon as carbon monoxide levels are elevated. The CDC recommends getting a battery-powered detector, or one with a battery back-up if it plugs into the wall. That way, you’ll still be protected during power outages. The detector should be placed somewhere where you will be able to hear it even if you are asleep. But making sure you have the right carbon monoxide detector is the first step. Here are five great options to protect your family and your home from this hidden danger.
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1. Kidde Nighthawk Plug-In AC/DC Carbon Monoxide Alarm Detector
While there are plug-in only models, the CDC recommends a carbon monoxide detector with a battery or back-up battery so you’re left protected even during power outages. A detector that runs primarily on electricity with a back-up battery, like this model from Kidde, also means you’ll have to worry about replacing the battery less. (The battery is not designed for long-term use, only short-term use during an outage, so you will need to make sure it’s plugged in.) A digital display also lets you check current carbon monoxide levels, as well as the peak level detected since the last reset. Because it comes with a battery, it’s also easy to install and ready to go.
2. Kidde Battery Operated Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Choosing a battery-operated alarm has its advantages, as well. This alarm, also from Kidde, takes three AAA batteries and can be used anywhere, regardless of outlet access. In addition to hanging it on a wall, you can keep it on a counter or table. Like the plug-in model, it has a digital display with current and peak CO levels. A test/reset button lets you check to make sure it’s working, and the detector will alert you when battery is low.
3. First Alert Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector
While it doesn’t have a digital display, this two-in-one detector from First Alert works for both smoke and carbon monoxide. Battery-operated, its base can be installed easily into the wall. The detector can then be removed if it needs to be reset or batteries replaced. In addition to using an electrochemical carbon monoxide sensor, it also uses photoelectric smoke sensing technology, which is designed to cut down on false alarms from cooking and even shower steam. Once the system detects high levels of either smoke or CO, a loud warning signal will alert you. It also beeps when the battery is low.
4. First Alert BRK Hardwired Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector
If your home is already hardwired for smoke and/or CO detectors, this easy-to-install, affordable model is a great choice. It detects both dangerous levels of carbon monoxide as well as smoke and alerts you when the back-up battery is running low or the system is malfunctioning. It also can connect to other hardwired First Alert and BRK detectors in your house: if one goes off, all do.
5. Google Nest Protect Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm
A battery-operated detector, the Google Nest Protect Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm can be installed anywhere in your house and operated via an app as well as in person. When you’re not home, you can receive alerts on your phone and, if you have more than one Nest device, it will tell you which one senses smoke or elevated CO levels. Because it works through your home’s WiFi, it can also run its own tests — no need to do it manually.