Why is carbon monoxide known as the silent killer?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas with no odor and no visible properties; thus, due to the fact that you cannot see it, taste it, or smell it, CO can kill you without you even knowing it’s there. Sounds terrifying, right? Read on for more information on this deadly gas and tips on how to protect your home.
How does carbon monoxide get into my home?
It’s already there. Trace amounts are normal and not harmful. CO is produced by the combustion that occurs from burning fuel in things such as: your furnace, stove, grill, fireplace, space heater, and even your clothes dryer. Many appliances produce trace amounts of CO but when these appliances are working correctly there is plenty of fresh oxygen in your home to allow for complete combustion and the CO is vented outside your home.
Sounds safe enough, what is the problem?
Problems arise when these appliances stop working correctly. Something as simple as an appliance malfunction or a clogged vent can produce unsafe levels of carbon monoxide. When the gas builds up in enclosed spaces people and animals are at risk of breathing in poison gas.
What are the signs of CO poisoning?
Exposure to low levels can make a person sick over time and can sometimes be mistaken for the flu.
Symptoms of low levels can include:
Shortness of breath
Higher levels of carbon monoxide poisoning are:
Loss of muscular coordination
Naturally, the gravity of a person’s symptoms correlates directly with both: the level of gas in their home, and the length of time in which they were exposed.
How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?
- Install CO detectors outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
- Check and replace said CO detectors when they expire. This occurs after about 5-7 years and the expiration date can be found on the back of most detectors.
- Have a qualified technician service all fuel burning appliances annually.
- Never run a car in an attached garage, even when the garage door is open, and even if it’s just for a few minutes.
- Clean out the lint and debris that builds up in the clothes dryer vent that leads to the outside of the house.
- Check the pilot lights on natural gas appliances and make sure the flame is blue. Yellow indicates that it’s producing CO.
If your CO detector sounds follow these steps:
- Leave the home into fresh air immediately. Do not try to find the source of the gas.
- Call emergency services.
- Do a head count and account for all residents of the home.
- Do not reenter the home until emergency services arrive and give clearance to do so.
Every year, more than 400 people die in this country die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. In addition, over 20,000 people visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 others are hospitalized. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a real problem and winter is the prime time for it, due to people using heating systems in their homes and prematurely warming their vehicles in their garages. Do your home and, let’s face it, your nerves a favor by checking your detectors and appliances today.
For more information on the installation of carbon monoxide detectors or multi-function CO/Smoke detectors, contact us.