According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for more than 20,000 emergency department visits and the cause of more than 400 unintentional deaths each year.
Often referred to as the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless poisonous gas that is emitted from anything that burns a fuel, such as furnaces, wood-burning stoves/fireplaces, gas appliances, generators and cars.
All household appliances that produce carbon monoxide are equipped with ventilation systems to keep the dangerous gas from accumulating in your home. The trouble arises in homes with appliances that were improperly installed, are broken, or have a leakage and emit the deadly gas into your home’s interior.
Exposure to carbon monoxide, even at low doses can lead to symptoms similar to the flu; headaches, dizziness, fatigue, chest and breathing difficulties. High exposure levels to carbon monoxide can lead to unconsciousness and death. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get outside and call 911.
Follow these tips to keep your family safe from the dangers of carbon monoxide:
- Inspection and maintenance. Have your fuel-burning appliances inspected by a professional at least once each year, or more if recommended by the manufacturer. In addition, homeowners with a wood burning stove or fireplace need to make sure the flue is clean and working properly before burning.
- Check your vents. Regularly check the exterior of your home and make sure all vents (dryer, stove, furnace, and fireplace) are clear of debris or other obstructions that could block carbon monoxide from exiting your home.
- Don’t run an engine in a closed area. Open the garage door before starting your car and pull it out immediately after starting. Even with the garage door open, carbon monoxide can quickly build up to unsafe levels.
- Leave the grill outside. Pulling the BBQ into the garage or basement may seem like a good idea but it’s extremely dangerous. Outdoor appliances are only intended to be used outdoors, where gases can flow freely.
- Carbon monoxide detectors. Install battery-operated or battery back-up carbon monoxide detectors near every sleeping area in your home, test them monthly to be sure they are functioning properly and replace the batteries once a year.
- Don’t ignore the alarm. If anyone in your home is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, immediately leave and seek medical attention. If no symptoms are felt, get fresh air into your home, turn off all fuel burning appliances, and reset the carbon monoxide detectors. If the detectors sound again, call a qualified technician to inspect and repair any problems.
After following these tips, seal up your home for the winter, crank up the heat and rest assure you and your family are safe from carbon monoxide poisoning. Give The Garatoni Group at call at 612-821-7456 and we can help you find a trusted professional to inspect your fuel-burning appliances.