Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips for Your Family
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless and deadly gas. Known as “the silent killer,” carbon monoxide is the number one cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the U.S. CO is produced by the incomplete combustion of a fuel and can be created when you burn any fuel – gasoline, natural gas, propane, oil, wood, coal and even tobacco.
Inside your home, carbon monoxide problems can come from many different sources; including an automobile idling in the garage, furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces, charcoal grills, gas ranges, space heaters and power generators.
Symptoms of CO Poisoning:
Because CO is odorless, tasteless and generally undetectable to human senses, people may not know they are being exposed. According to the Mayo Clinic, 10,000 Americans are exposed to some degree of CO poisoning annualy. The initial symptoms of low-to-moderate exposure are similar to the flu, minus the fever. These include:
-Shortness of breath
Higher-Level CO Poisoning Leads to More Severe Symptoms Including:
-Loss of muscular coordination
-Loss of consciousness
-Ultimately, death if victims are not rescued and treated
CO Safety Tips:
-Be familiar with the early signs of CO exposure, and if you suspect CO poisoning, move outside and call 911 for emergency help.
-Know the possible sources of CO poisoning in your home and keep fuel-burning appliances and their chimneys and vents in good working order.
-Have your home heating system, including chimneys and vents, inspected and serviced annually by a trained service technician.
-Install carbon monoxide alarms near bedrooms and living areas throughout your home to give advanced warning of elevated CO levels. Many newer models of carbon monoxide alarms come with permanent, 10-year lithium batteries, but if you’re using detectors with a disposable battery, change the batteries at least twice a year.
-Never bring a charcoal grill into the house for heating or cooking, and do not barbecue in the garage.
-If using a fireplace, open the damper before lighting the fire, and leave the damper open until the ashes are cool.
-Always run portable electric generators outside, at least 15 feet from your house.
-Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even if the garage door is open.
By following these steps, and properly maintaining your alarms, you can protect your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide.