4 tips to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from carbon monoxide poisoning
CO is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill without
warning. People often don't realize that they're suffering from CO poisoning
until they become very ill.
Below are some tips to keep yourself and your loved ones safe:
1. What causes CO poisoning?
CO may be released as the result of improper functioning of
heaters, boilers, fireplaces, stoves, or any other gas or fuel-powered
equipment. When CO is released in an enclosed area such as a home, it may
result in CO poisoning
2. What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
Symptoms may occur immediately or gradually. Exposure to CO can
cause flu-like symptoms, including headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, and
loss of muscle control. Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to
serious illness and even death. If you experience these symptoms after being in
an enclosed area, go out into fresh air immediately. Seek emergency medical
help if symptoms do not quickly improve.
3. How can I prevent CO poisoning?
The most important thing you can do is properly maintain heaters,
boilers, fireplaces, stoves, and other gas or fuel-powered equipment. Have
chimneys checked or cleaned every year as a blockage can cause CO to build up
indoors. Be sure there is proper ventilation when fireplaces, wood stoves or
other air consuming devices are operated at the same time as your regular heating
system. After a snowstorm, clear snow from any outdoor vents. Portable
generators should only be used outdoors and away from any windows, doors and
CO alarms are an important second line of defense. Some states,
like New York, have laws requiring CO alarms in residential and commercial
buildings. The devices will sound a loud alarm in the case of dangerous levels
of CO. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
recommends placing a CO
alarm in every area of your home. If just one alarm is installed, it should be
placed near the sleeping rooms of the house. Be sure to check the batteries of
your CO alarm at least every six months.
4. Other ways to prevent CO poisoning:
Never use a gas oven or range to heat a room. This can deplete
oxygen from the air.
Ensure that any natural gas-burning appliances are installed,
maintained and used safely and according to manufacturer instructions.
Do not allow vehicles, lawnmowers, snow blowers, or any
gasoline-powered engine to idle in a garage attached to a house, even with the
door open. CO can drift into the living space and create a hazardous situation
Have vehicles’ mufflers and tailpipes checked on a regular basis to prevent accidental CO build-up.
Avoid build-up of carbon monoxide fumes by opening the fireplace damper before lighting a fire and keep it open until the ashes are cool.