How The Kidde Nighthawk Multi-Hazard Alarm Saved My Families' Lives...and made me eat crow!Mar 19, 2001 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in Auto Parts and AccessoriesThe Bottom Line Make sure your home is equipped with life-saving equipment. Some things are too important to risk.
NOTE: I have been trying for over a year to get Epinions to add a section for home safety products such as: Smoke Detectors, Fire Extinguishers, Carbon Monoxide Detectors, Natural Gas Alarms, Propane Alarms, etc. The alarms generally come in three versions, battery, electric, and electric with a battery back-up. I could dedicate an entire article just to the advantages and disadvantages of each style. However, I am providing this article as a service to the Epinions community, in hopes that I will eventually be able to move it into the correct category for Multi- Hazard Alarms. This is the story of how an alarm saved the lives of my entire family.
A few weeks ago, my wife complained to me that she smelled gas, and advised me that she was concerned that we might have a gas leak. Not being much of a "nervous nelly," I went into the laundry room, where our heater is located, and attempted to determine if I could smell any gas. I couldn't smell anything unusual, and reassured my wife that everything was okay. My response did not satisfy her. It was late in the evening, but she doggedly kept after me about the gas. I finally told her she could go buy a detector, if she was that sure that we had a gas leak. I felt like the Carbon Monoxide detector we had was adequate protection. I would soon find out how wrong I was. My wife went to several stores, finally purchasing a Kidde Nighthawk Multi- Hazard carbon monoxide/explosive gas alarm. She purchased this unit from Menard's home improvement store for $54.00.
Setting up this alarm was a breeze. However, the instruction booklet has about a dozen pages worth of information regarding this alarm. I looked over the important stuff, inserted the battery back-up, and plugged the unit into a wall socket that is near the ceiling. This unit is very simple to operate, and includes detectors for propane as well as natural gas. If you have a propane heater, you should place this unit near the floor for best results. Because I use natural gas, I plugged the unit into a high outlet, as the instruction indicated. After testing the unit, and observing the easy-to-read digital display, we went to bed.
A Rude Awakening
Around one o'clock in the morning, I was rudely awakened by the shrieking beep, beep, beep, beep of the alarm. I looked up at the alarm and observed the Carbon Monoxide readout shooting skyward. When the alarm detects gas, the word "GAS" will display in the monitor. If the unit detects carbon monoxide, it will display the PPM (Parts Per Million) of carbon monoxide detected. According to the book, the lower threshold of PPM is around 30. OSHA recommends no more than 8 hours exposure to 50 PPM. The display on my unit was moving upward past 70 as I jumped out of bed. I noticed that the heater was running. My wife and I agreed that we should immediately shut off the heater, which she did. She also opened the front door of the house, allowing an exchange of fresh air. I watched the monitor on this unit, as it slowly dropped back to a moderate range. It finally dropped below 50 PPM, and I felt that it was safe to reset the unit, and remain in the house. It was a cold night, with plenty of blankets, but the exchange of fresh air was reassuring.
Weekend Service Call
It cost $75 just to have the heater repairman knock on our front door. The rates on the weekend are pretty steep. However, the repair was very simple. The repairman walked into the laundry room, and looked behind the heater with a flashlight. The ventilation duct that carries all the furnace exhaust out through the roof had fallen off, and all the poison exhaust was pouring into my basement when the heater kicked on. The repairman was surprised to find out that we spent the night in the house. My wife explained to him that we turned off the heater and ventilated the house. He said it was a good thing we did, we would all most likely be dead if we hadn't.
The Detector That Failed
The thing that troubled me most was the Carbon Monoxide detector that NEVER WENT OFF. We had a First Alert electric carbon monoxide detector that we have owned for about one year. This unit was located approximately fifteen feet from the laundry room, and never alerted us to the dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in our home. It was a terrible feeling to think that this detector could have failed us, leaving us dead. I called the company who remained professional, and courteous, but ultimately unconcerned and indifferent. I was shocked at their lack of personal concern for the health and safety of my family, following the failure of their product. I guess it may have legal implications, in spite of my complete lack of desire for legal action. I am just happy to be alive.
I guess it will be a long time before I live this one down. In very real terms, I think I owe my life to my wife's incessant nagging. An aspect that often provides a source of periodic irritation proved life-saving. It will be a while before I can tell my wife that she is over-reacting. The best thing I can do right now is keep my mouth shut and agree with her. (What I should have done to begin with).
About The Nighthawk
This unit detects carbon monoxide, natural gas (methane) and propane. It has a 9 volt battery back up and a hide-away plug, that allows you to mount the unit near the ceiling (for natural gas), even if your plug is near the floor. The instruction booklet provides detailed information concerning these potential threats, and several hints for maximum effectiveness. For instance, it is not a good idea to place this unit in an area where you use hair spray or other compressed gas products. They will set the gas detector off. Also, cleaning products that are stored near this unit can effect the unit, so be aware of that fact. The instructions also provide a chart indicating the effects of carbon monoxide based on PPM. The LED readout is red, and can be easily read in the darkness. The display is easy to understand. The alarm has a high decibel alert signal that cannot easily be ignored. That is a definite plus.
Make YOUR House Safe
This $54 investment was the best money I ever spent. I would recommend that people buy two detectors, and for maximum effect, buy two separate brands. This way, they won't get two defective units from the same lot (even though it probably is very rare...why take the chance). Also, I would highly recommend taking the time to check out smoke detectors. The battery operated units run around fifteen dollars, and are very easy to install. You should buy several, and place at least two on each level of your house...more, if you have a lot of square footage. Also, don't forget to have fire extinguishers handy, especially in the kitchen. I have one there, and one near my laundry/heater room, the two most likely places for a fire to break out.
Naturally, I would recommend the product that worked, and not the product that failed. I highly recommend this unit and strongly recommend that everyone equip their homes with these life- saving devices. Your family is worth the reasonable investment that this product requires. For under two hundred dollars, you can equip your home with two of these detectors, several smoke alarms and two fire extinguishers. Your family is worth it.
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