Carbon monoxide is known as the invisible killer for a reason. It’s odorless, invisible, poisonous, and deadly. It kills more than 400 people in the United States each year and results in more than 20,000 visits to emergency rooms across the country. It is produced by a multitude of things including vehicles, small engines, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, lanterns, as well as portable generators and furnaces.
How can you keep your family safe from this threat? Read on to find out!
Securing Your Home
Each year you should have your water heater, furnace, and any other gas or coal-burning appliances serviced. January is a great time to do this so you remember to do it at the same time each and every year. Technicians can not only identify leaks but can also prevent them from happening.
If you have a chimney, it should also be checked and cleaned each year. Before using a fireplace, it is important to ensure that the damper is open before lighting it, and it should remain open until the fire is completely extinguished to prevent gasses from filling the air.
Additional Safety Checks
- Never use portable chemical heaters, generators or your oven to heat your home. Even with proper ventilation, it is not safe and can produce deadly gas.
- Generators should be located outside and should not be within 20 feet of any window, vent or door as they produce fatal levels of carbon monoxide in just minutes.
- You should also never start your car or leave your car running in a garage attached to the home. Pull the vehicle out before starting it. For detached garages, be sure the door is open to let fresh air in.
Detection Is Key
Aside from general safety precautions, ensure that you have carbon monoxide detectors installed in each hallway near sleeping areas, as well as one on each floor of your home. Check your batteries at least a few times per year and replace detectors every five years.
Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The early stages of carbon monoxide poisoning can include headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and shortness of breath. If high-levels of the deadly gas are present, you can experience vomiting, mental confusion, loss of consciousness or muscle coordination, or may result in death.
If you experience any of these symptoms, evacuate your home immediately and seek treatment. Do not return to the structure until it has been checked by a professional.