As you prepare your home for cooler weather, don’t forget to check for possible sources of carbon monoxide.
Often called the “silent killer”, carbon monoxide (CO) is a potentially lethal colorless, odorless gas that can be caused by malfunctions and leaks in many gas-, oil-, or coal-burning appliances, including:
- Gas Stoves and Ranges
- Hot Water Heaters
- Gas Refrigerators
- Clothes Dryers
Carbon monoxide is also emitted from generators, gas-powered tools, automobiles, lawnmowers, and more.
Low exposure to carbon monoxide often results in flu-like symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and even confusion. High-level exposure can lead to loss of consciousness and possibly death. In fact, a Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Fact Sheet distributed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 400 Americans die annually from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Another 20,000 visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 Americans are hospitalized each year for CO poisoning. Although all humans and their pets are at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning, unborn babies, infants, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems are significantly more susceptible.
To prevent CO poisoning, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) suggests following these guidelines:
- Ensure that appliances are properly installed and operated according to manufacturer guidelines. In many cases, this will mean hiring a qualified professional to perform the installation.
- Do not operate portable generators or other gasoline-engine-powered tools in or near enclosed areas such as garages, houses, or other buildings.
- Do not use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside your home, garage, vehicle, or tent unless the owner’s manual indicates that the appliance is safe for use in enclosed spaces.
- Never burn charcoal inside your home, garage, vehicle, or tent.
- Do not leave your car running inside of an attached garage, even if the door is open.
- Turn off unvented fuel-burning appliances in rooms where people are sleeping.
- Ensure that appliance vents and chimneys are not blocked by tarps or debris.
- Have your heating system professionally inspected and serviced each year.
The CPSC also suggests installing a carbon monoxide detector. These devices, like the Safety Siren Pro Series Combination Gas Detector, monitor the air in your home for the presence of CO. If carbon monoxide is detected, the Safety Siren gas detector will activate both visual and audible alarms. This 3-in-1 gas detector also monitors your indoor environment for methane and propane gas leaks.
For more information about protecting your home and family from carbon monoxide poisoning and getting your home ready for cooler weather, check out these helpful articles:
CPSC Carbon Monoxide Questions and Answers
CDC Carbon Monoxide Fact Sheet
“Your Homes Fall Checklist” by Better Homes and Gardens