Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that kills approximately 2500 Americans each year. Carbon monoxide, or CO, is found in combustion fumes from automobiles, small engines, lanterns, stoves, grills, fireplaces, gas power generators, and gas ranges and heating systems. When these fumes build up in enclosed spaces, people can easily die from breathing CO.
Warning symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, confusion, and hallucinations. Interestingly, some “haunted houses” have been found to have carbon monoxide contamination, which caused hallucinations among residents.
In 1994, professional tennis player Vitas Gerulaitis took a nap at a friend’s house. He never woke up. As he slept, carbon monoxide from a swimming pool heater leaked into his room through the air conditioning system. An autopsy showed that carbon monoxide had displaced 75% of the oxygen in his body.
Follow these tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
- You need a carbon monoxide detector if you have any type of gas, oil, or wood-burning system in your home. The Safety Siren Combination Gas Detector checks for carbon monoxide every 2.5 minutes and sounds an alarm if it detects the poisonous gas; this must-have gas detector also tests for methane and propane.
- Never use a gas stove to heat a home.
- Never use a charcoal or gas grill indoors.
- Never use gas-powered generators, engines, lawn mowers, chainsaws, or other appliances in enclosed spaces.
- Make sure that all indoor gas appliances are properly vented.
- If you have a chimney, clean it every year, as debris can cause CO to build up in your home.
- Never run an automobile in a garage with the garage door closed.