Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: The Silent Killer

carbon monoxide alarm
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that interferes with the body’s ability to transport oxygen. Without oxygen in the bloodstream, the body begins to die. Over a prolonged exposure, the body may experience flu-like symptoms, such as headache, dizziness, vomiting, chest pain, seizures, and ultimately, death. Those who are sleeping or intoxicated may not experience the warning signs, making CO poisoning a major threat. Nearly 400,000 people per year seek medical attention for CO poisoning in the United States. Luckily, CO poisoning is easily preventable.


What produces carbon monoxide in my home?

CO is actually very prevalent in our homes, but proper home construction and infrastructure allows the deadly gas to escape. CO is produced by anything in our home that burns and produces heat, including gas burners, furnaces, fireplaces, grills, cars, and laundry dryers. Regular maintenance can keep your heating systems running safely, eliminating the risk of CO poisoning.


What can I do to prevent CO poisoning?

Here are some easy and cheap tips that you can follow to make sure your home is safe from carbon monoxide:


Install CO alarms


CO alarms can be bought at any hardware store, and come in a wide variety of styles and abilities. These alarms plug into the outlets of your home and regularly detect for changes in CO concentration. Place an alarm on each floor and near bedrooms. Alarms should be tested regularly with your smoke alarms. Most alarms have a backup battery in case of a power outage, but you should still keep a pack of batteries handy for extended electrical outages.

If the alarm does go off, move everyone in the home into fresh air, and call 911.


Keep your vents clear

A majority of CO poisoning in the home comes from poor ventilation. During and after a storm, make sure that nothing is obstructing the outside vents for your dryer, stove, fireplace, and furnace.


Avoid running engines in a closed area


Never start a car, generator, or grill in a closed area. CO can build up quickly, even when the garage door is open. Never leave a child or animal in a car that is idling inside of the garage.


Maintenance is key


Have qualified professionals come to inspect your heaters and fireplaces once a year. These experts may be able to detect the subtle warning signs of deterioration or poor ventilation. Keeping your stoves, filters, furnaces, and other fireplaces clean will also keep CO gas traveling upwards and out of your home.


What should I do if I have CO poisoning?

CO poisoning a serious, life-threatening condition. If you or a loved one may have CO poisoning, call 911 immediately and get into fresh, clean air. Medical personnel may provide you with oxygen treatment and assess the severity of your poisoning. You may be taken to the hospital to be treated for some of the symptoms associated with CO poisoning, such as seizures, brain damage, hypotension, and cardiac abnormalities.

 Worry that your home may be susceptible to CO poisoning? Call Bellows Plumbing, Heating & Air for an immediate inspection. We will send someone to assess your home and give you some peace of mind.