Restaurant carbon monoxide dangers have been front page news the last several months. From the deadly accident at Legal Seafood, to the great story of EMT Joseph Biundo using his portable carbon monoxide meter to detect a serious situation at a Dunkin Donuts, the public is becoming more aware of carbon monoxide risks where they eat.
At the same time, many restaurants aren’t equipped to properly detect carbon monoxide situations before a serious incident occurs. For example, a standard carbon monoxide detector, if one is even present, likely won’t alarm until 70 parts per million, which is close to the number Biundo experienced near the ovens in Dunkin Donuts that day. He indicated that his hand held CO detector read 80 PPM in the kitchen. By UL standards, which are the standards that govern most of the carbon monoxide detectors you’ll find in stores, an alarm isn’t required to sound for 60 to 240 minutes. In fact, even at 150 PPM, a UL CO Detector may not alarm for ten minutes.
The standards were set up to prevent nuisance alarms. To a degree, you can see the idea behind it.
However, much more research is being done on how lower levels of carbon monoxide can affect different groups of people, such as asthmatics, pregnant women, and other “at risk” individuals that have special health concerns.
Biundo’s personal CO detector alarmed at 35PPM when he entered the restaurant. He was using a high quality unit (although sadly not one of ours) clipped onto his equipment. Many CO detectors may not alarm for a FULL MONTH in those conditions. So in the meantime, at risk individuals are experiencing what many believe to be potentially harmful air quality conditions, and they never know it.
Secondly, the presence of 35PPM in a restaurant indicates something is seriously wrong in the kitchen. Ventilation is failing, or something similar. 35PPM can become a much deadlier number quickly in these events. So an instant alarm at 35PPM is preferable for identifying problems.
And don’t forget, carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless. Ahead of the headaches and dizziness, you really have no natural warning system.
Advantages of a Portable Carbon Monoxide Detector
We believe that people should have portable carbon monoxide detectors in areas that are high risk, such as restaurants. The low level instant alarm, as well as the digital readout that measure carbon monoxide levels in real time is critical. Most models on the market now are affordable to just about everyone. The model Biundo was wearing comes in at around $200. Our Inspector series starts at $129. It’s great for restaurant use, since it’s water and dust proof, and can be worn by key personnel in the kitchen, or set/clipped somewhere highly visible.
And sometimes that instant alarm at 35PPM can be enough to alert someone to call for help. Lower readings can alert someone that there is a pending problem, and allow them to fix it before dangerous levels are present.
Important note: If you are working in a restaurant that deploys devices such as ours, please be sure you review policy on how to respond to a low level CO alarm. In some cases, it may be preferable to call emergency services immediately, while in others it may just require further investigation. It’s important to have such a policy in place, and react accordingly. We can only provide the data: It’s up to you to decide what to do with it!