Noble McIntyre on December 1, 2015
’Tis the season for a lot of things. Unfortunately, one of them is carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide (CO) is hard to detect because it is odorless and colorless, and exposure can make you very sick, or even be deadly. The good news is, though, that carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable by following a few simple guidelines.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced when any fuel is burned. You might already have been warned about the danger of starting your car in a closed garage because of the gas fumes that get trapped inside the garage. But, some people don’t realize that carbon monoxide is produced by lots of home appliances, including gas central heating systems, water heaters, space heaters, fireplaces, furnaces and wood-burning stoves. If any one of these systems or devices leaks or is poorly vented, it can cause a dangerous level of carbon monoxide in the air.
You can’t make sure that none of your appliances ever gets a leak or malfunctions, so in addition to keeping your devices and systems well-maintained, the next most important thing is to have a CO detector on every level of your home and near bedrooms. Here are some other ways to keep your family safe from CO poisoning:
If you are being affected by carbon monoxide, you might feel dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea or irregular breathing. You might feel as if you were coming down with the flu, except without fever. If you begin to experience any of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately. A hospital would likely provide you with oxygen therapy through a mask in order to rid your body of the toxins.
Ultimately, you need to be aware of how anything that uses gas or other fuel is used in your home. Never use an appliance or device that is not specifically intended for an indoor purpose (like a furnace or water heater) and properly vented and maintained. And, be sure that your CO detectors are battery-powered, and that you check them frequently. If you can prevent a problem before it begins, that would be your best bet. If you do feel as though you’re experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure, or if someone else in your household is showing those signs, get to a hospital immediately for treatment. Remember, because CO is odorless and colorless, the only way for you to know that the gas is present in the air before you begin to feel ill is by having a properly activated detector. Stay safe this winter!