Security Dealers: Save Lives (And Add RMR) by Monitoring Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Educate your customer base on the silent dangers of carbon monoxide and how it behooves them to have their CO detectors monitored by professionals.

DID you know that carbon monoxide (CO) is frequently referred to as the “silent killer”? It earned this dubious distinction because it is odorless and, in high enough quantities, it’s fatal. In the period from 1999-2010, unintentional CO poisoning was the cause of 5,149 deaths just in the United States alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s an average of 430 deaths per year, or more than one person losing their life to CO poisoning every day! Perhaps the most tragic part about this startling number is that many of these deaths were likely preventable … and the security industry has the best solution to prevent these types of fatalities.

Studies show that correctly installed and properly maintained CO detectors save lives. Because CO poisoning can cause mental confusion and loss of consciousness, monitored detectors save lives when people are asleep or otherwise unable to save themselves. Even when a person is fully aware or awake, CO basically lulls its victims to sleep. And the average home that utilizes natural gas has many potential areas for leakage.

What Customers Don’t Know May Harm Them

UCC monitors thousands of CO detectors for our dealers. In fact, as one of our dealers in Iowa (that did not wish to be named) can attest, UCC dispatchers responded to two different CO detector activations from two separate accounts in just over a year. Because the dealer prioritizes discussing and offering monitored CO detectors for customers, five people from two families are alive today. That is an amazing testimony to the value that a monitored CO detector adds to an alarm system.

Local CO detectors certainly play a big part in life safety, but nothing can compete with a CO detector monitored by a qualified central station. To illustrate my point, on one of the lifesaving incidents in Iowa, the customer was adamant that the CO alert was a false alarm. UCC dispatchers are properly trained to be vigilant when explaining that CO is both odorless and colorless, and they’re taught to be insistent when urging families to immediately evacuate the premises while they notify the fire department. Because the dispatcher was able to convince the family to leave the house, the mother, father and their 15-year-old autistic son survived. Fire department CO measurements taken on the scene confirmed that it was only a matter of moments until the family would have been rendered unconscious.

By simply educating each residential customer about the importance of having a monitored CO detector, it gives you another point of interaction and you might just save someone’s life … and increase your RMR in the process. Seems like a win-win to me. 

This is where security dealers come in. Most people don’t appreciate just how easily CO can accumulate in their home, that they won’t be able to tell before it’s too late, or just how deadly this invisible killer is – but you do. Just by taking a few extra minutes with your customers explaining the dangers and how you can help, you may play a key role in saving lives too. Because CO deaths are so easily preventable, I recommend all dealers installing residential systems with fire monitoring educate customers and offer CO detection by a qualified central station.

CO Detection Offers Upsell & RMR Opportunities Too

The savvy alarm dealer is always looking to upsell their existing customer base. Today, hopefully you’re capitalizing on the overwhelming demand for interactive security and connected home solutions. It’s nice to be able to provide the services your customers want. But think about how you and your customers both benefit by providing them with a service they probably don’t even know they need. By simply educating each residential customer about the importance of having a monitored CO detector, it gives you another point of interaction and you might just save someone’s life … and increase your RMR in the process. Seems like a win-win to me.

Unlike the “good ol’ days” of installing hardwired systems when we were all probably naïve about the dangers of CO, adding an $85 CO detector using today’s wireless systems or add-on solutions should be a breeze installation. Plus, now that you are more aware of the dangers, adding CO detection to your portfolio should be an easy decision.

More: ADT Recognizes First Responders’ Efforts in Helping Family Avert CO Disaster

Here’s an idea: Perhaps “Saving your life for under $100 has never been easier” could be the next “special offer” to your new and existing customers. You can use the offer as an opportunity to boost CO awareness and how easy (and cost efficient) the potential hazard is to prevent. Whether you ask for all the installation costs upfront, make it more affordable by amortizing the cost into the monthly monitoring, or even by offering the newest self-installed DIY options. In any case, it never hurts to reach out to your customer base and offer them upgrades that can be vital to the safety and security of their family, right?

Your customers will thank you. If I were a gambling man, I’d bet that our dealer in Iowa has at least two families that will be customers for life. I’d also put money on the fact that they’ve told their story to everyone who will listen – but we’ll save stories about value and timing of referrals for another time.

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About the Author


Mark Matlock is Senior Vice President at United Central Control, a division of Lydia Security Monitoring Inc.

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