Carbon monoxide poisoning is often referred to as the “Silent Killer” by many fire departments and first responders.
Since carbon monoxide is colorless, tasteless, odorless, and the symptoms are not usually recognized as a danger until it is too late, it has become one of the most lethal types of poisoning in our country. At least 430 people succumb to the gas annually and more than 50,000 people visit emergency rooms due to symptoms of accidental poisoning every year.
Are you aware of the main sources of carbon monoxide (CO) leaks in your home? And symptoms that often accompany an ongoing poisoning? Do you have a CO detector in your home to alert you and your family of a potential leak?
Read on to find out more about this deadly gas and how a CO monitor as a part of your home security system can prevent poisoning at your home.
What Is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, tasteless, and odorless gas that is produced any time fuel is burned.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) explains that the gas is produced when fuels such as: gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane burn incompletely.
What Are the Main Sources of CO Leaks?
The potential sources of carbon monoxide gasses are in the many fuel-burning devices around most people’s homes including: the furnace, dryer vent in a drying machine, space heaters, and a fireplace or chimney.
The gas could also be produced by a running car in a garage or a stand-alone generator being run too close to the side of a home. It is also smart to be vigilant of snow that may pile up and block the ventilation of furnaces or dryer vents during the winter months.
These areas and items should be regularly inspected by both homeowners and a professional that can properly clean and service the furnace, chimney, wood burning stove, or the dryer vent.
Generators should be used sparingly and away from the home so that gasses do not have a chance to build up inside the home. Cars that are running or “warming up” during the winter months should do so with the garage door open.
Without these annual checks and the utilization of a carbon monoxide detector, families could be in danger of a potentially life-threatening situation, like carbon monoxide poisoning.
How Does a CO Detector Work?
One of the most effective ways to protect your family from accidental poisoning from this lethal gas is to install CO detectors on every level of your home. Not only are they helpful on every level, but should be outside every bedroom area of the home in order to alert sleeping homeowners in the case of elevated levels.
Symptoms of CO Poisoning
The NFPA warns that, “The dangers of CO exposure depend on a number of variables, including the victim’s health and activity level. Infants, pregnant women, and people with physical conditions that limit their body’s ability to use oxygen (emphysema, asthma, heart disease) can be more severely affected by lower concentrations of CO than healthy adults would be.”
If a homeowner is awake and still alert, they may experience common symptoms of CO poisoning such as: headaches, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” If you breathe in a lot of CO it can make you pass out or kill you. People who are sleeping or drunk can die from CO poisoning before they have symptoms.
To avoid a poisoning scenario be sure to follow some simple steps this winter to ensure that you do not become a CO statistic.
Use a certified CO monitor, preferably linked to a 24/7 monitoring station like many of our options here at Instant Alarm.
Change the batteries in the devices every 6 months.
Have your heating systems serviced by a qualified specialist every year.
Keep running cars and generators away from your home.
Never use a generator inside your home.
Have your chimney and fireplace cleaned annually.
Keep your dryer vents clean and free of debris.
If you suspect CO poisoning, leave the home and call 911 or a healthcare professional right away.
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