Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Most people are aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure. Nevertheless, more than 20,000 Americans become ill from CO poisoning each year. Here are some important things to know about the risks in your home:
1. CO is sneaky:
- It’s both odorless and colorless
- It can build to dangerous levels quickly in an enclosed area
- Common symptoms of CO poisoning—headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, and confusion—are mistaken for the flu
Things we don’t expect, like mowers and grills can be dangerous if they aren’t operated in the open air. And a wood-burning fireplace can be a risk if the chimney is not cleaned regularly.
2. It’s nearly impossible to eliminate all CO sources. Fumes that produce CO can come from major home appliances, automobiles, heating systems, and water heaters … in other words, many of the conveniences of modern life.
3. Higher risk? Ironically, homes well-sealed and insulated for energy efficiency are especially at risk.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to safeguard your home:
1. Install CO detectors near the sleeping areas of your home.
2. Never operate cars, mowers, generators, grills, or other CO-producing tools in the garage—even with the garage door open. Fumes can still build up in the garage or even enter the house.
3. Make sure all vents, chimneys, and flues are unblocked, cleaned regularly, and ductwork is without leaks.
4. Make sure all major appliances are properly installed.
5. Have your home heating system inspected and serviced every year.
Follow these steps and you can feel confident that you and your family are protected throughout the year.