Carbon Monoxide Safety

Learn the dangers of carbon monoxide and how to protect yourself from it.

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Matt Anderson's Take

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is created when fuels like gasoline, natural gas, propane, wood, coal, oil, and methane don't fully burn. This gas, often called the invisible killer, has no smell or taste and can kill you before you even know it's present.

This deadly carbon monoxide gas can be a real danger in homes with any type of gas fueled appliances (HVAC systems, stoves, dryers, hot water heaters, grills, and even the car in your garage).

How To Detect Carbon Monoxide

The easiest way to detect carbon monoxide leakage into your home is with a carbon monoxide detector. These work much like the smoke detectors in your home and sound an alarm when carbon monoxide gas is detected. They're available in plug-in style with battery backup as well as battery only units.

You should place a detector on every level of your home near sleeping areas, making sure to follow the directions for proper height placement on the wall or ceiling. As with smoke detectors, make sure to test the unit monthly and replace batteries annually.

If the detector ever starts beeping to alert you to high carbon monoxide levels be sure to leave the house and call the fire department immediately.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Preventing carbon monoxide poisoning is often as simple as doing proper maintenance on your appliances, home, and car. When outdoor temperatures drop and you start using fireplaces or gas powered furnaces the chances of being poisoned can increase if things aren't properly maintained.

Always make sure fireplaces are clean, well maintained, and only used with the flue is open. Never leaves cars running in your garage either. Never use clothing dryers or stoves as ways to heat your home. Make sure all gas powered appliances are properly vented to the outside and make sure those vent lines are clear.

Symptoms Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Even low levels of this deadly gas can cause health issues which may start off as headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath. As concentrations increase symptoms can include vomiting, mental confusion, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness, flu-like symptoms even after you're back in fresh air, and possibly even death if you don't get fresh air.

When in doubt, seek medical advice to see if you've been poisoned and then have your home checked by a professional.
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