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Carbon Monoxide And The Safety of Your Loved Ones

Written on: October 4, 2021

What you need to know

CO safety maineIn the winter, the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning rises. That’s due to our using our home heating systems more regularly.

There are also people who are using additional heating equipment indoors like space heaters, improperly using gas stoves for home supplemental heating, or improperly using gas equipment like grills or portable generators in enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces like garages, sunporches, and carports.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a dangerous and potentially fatal gas. When it comes to safety, no matter what appliance or piece of equipment you use, you should ensure that you and your loved ones are safe. We’ve compiled some information about it so you can learn more about carbon monoxide and how to keep yourself and others in your home safe from it.

What makes carbon monoxide dangerous?

Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that is odorless and colorless. It is often referred to as a “silent killer” because it cannot be seen or smelled.

CO can damage your lungs, heart and brain when it builds up in your blood. As carbon monoxide levels rise, it begins to take the place of oxygen in your red blood cells. The more it builds up, the more severe the damage becomes, potentially resulting in death or permanent injury.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is common at night when people are sleeping. Individuals can be put at risk before they feel any symptoms in these situations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 50,000 people end up in the emergency room with carbon monoxide poisoning each year, with 4,000 of them having to be hospitalized. Sadly, CO kills about 430 people a year.

Signs of CO poisoning

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are commonly described as flu-like, with the most common symptoms being:

  • headache
  • weakness or lethargy
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • confusion
  • chest pain

CO poisoning can affect everyone, but infants, children, the elderly, and those with anemia, respiratory problems, or severe heart disease are particularly susceptible.

How to prevent CO poisoning in your home

There are several things you can do to help safeguard yourself and your loved ones from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide detectors are the most critical tool of defense for your family’s safety. Monitors should be installed on every level of your home, including the basement and attic, as well as outside all sleeping zones.

Have your heating system serviced regularly. An annual tune-up may identify problems that can lead to carbon monoxide buildup, allowing them to be addressed by a professional service provider like AFC’s licensed specialists.

Change the batteries in your CO detectors when you change the batteries on your smoke detector, which you should be doing each time you change your clocks to or from Daylight Savings Time. Carbon monoxide detectors must be replaced after five years.

NOTE: Carbon monoxide detectors are not designed to detect propane in your home’s air. If you use propane, we urge you to install propane leak detectors as a backup in case something like rust inside your propane tank inhibits the rotten-egg smell of propane. Propane leak detectors are inexpensive and can be bought at hardware and home improvement store, or online.

Have questions about safety and your home’s heating system? Contact us and we’ll help in any way we can.