Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that is so sinister largely because it is so hard for the human senses to detect. You can’t see, smell, or taste it, and it doesn’t irritate. Only a special detector can tell you if you have dangerous levels of the gas in your home. As the number one cause of poisoning death in the U.S. it is important to know the facts about this silent killer.
Carbon Monoxide Comes From Multiple Sources
Why should you be worried about CO? This gas can get into your environment from several difference sources. Any appliance in your home that burns fuel, like a furnace or water heater, can cause a build-up of CO in your home if it isn’t functioning correctly or if there is not enough venting. Other fuel-burning devices that may produce CO include portable generators, cars, boats, and tools like lawn mowers or snow blowers.
There Are Recognizable Symptoms Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
You can’t sense the gas, but being poisoned by CO does cause certain symptoms you should be aware of:
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle weakness
- Headaches and dizziness
- Slowed reaction times
- Changes in vision
- Shortness of breath
- Flu-like symptoms
If You Suspect Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Get Fresh Air, Call for Help
If you think your home is contaminated or someone in your home is showing signs of CO poisoning, you need fresh air right away. Get outside if possible, or open a window to breathe in fresh air from outside. Carbon monoxide poisons by preventing oxygen from getting into your body. Fresh air contains oxygen that is life-saving. Your next step should be to call 911 for emergency medical treatment.
- If symptoms of CO poisoning are present, every one should exit the building. (For our department we tell people to get out and leave your doors and windows shut. The reason for this is so we can get an accurate reading of the level of CO in the home.)
- Call a qualified technician to inspect and service your equipment.
Use Carbon Monoxide Alarms To Save Lives
A simple device that detects and warns you about dangerously high levels of CO could save your life and the lives of anyone in your home. These are similar to smoke detectors and can be plugged into any outlet. Make sure you get alarms that are certified and that have batter backups in case of power loss.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and use in your home.
- Install at least one CO detector in your home, near sleeping areas.
- Plan and practice a home evacuation plan with all members of your family in case of any emergency.
- Replace CO detectors every 2 years, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Remember…Carbon Monoxide Detectors ARE NOT Smoke alarms. Install a smoke alarm on each level of your home and outside each sleeping area.
Regular Maintenance Can Prevent Carbon Monoxide Leaks
CO alarms are essential, but you should also have your furnace and other fuel-burning home appliances maintained and checked regularly. By keeping them in good working order you can prevent the buildup of CO in your home.
Carbon monoxide is the silent killer, but poisoning deaths are highly preventable. By understanding the facts about this gas and taking preventative steps, you can keep your family safe. To get more information about CO alarms and maintenance for appliances, contact Fire & Ice HVAC.