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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention and Safety

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, tasteless gas which can build up in your home and become a very real health threat. Here are some facts and tips to help you avoid Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas which can build up in your home and become a very real health threat. It is produced when fuels are not burned completely. These fuels are commonplace in both the home and work environments. Carbon Monoxide is produced by any vehicle, motor, appliance, generator or power equipment that runs on fuel. These fuelsinclude: wood, coal, kerosene, home heating oil, diesel fuel, natural and propane gas, and charcoal. Anything that burns can produce carbon monoxide.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year there are over 170 reported deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning. Many people are aware of the dangers of leaving a car running in a closed garage, but more deaths occur from malfunctioning fuel powered appliances than car exhaust. These appliances are common in almost every household and include, gas ranges, oil burners, fireplaces – both gas and wood – hot water heaters, gas dryers, generators, room heaters and wood and coal stoves. Fatalities due to carbon monoxide poisoning rises in the winter months, during power outages and the use of gas powered generators or gas stoves are used for heat. Emergency rooms treat several thousand people suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning each year.

The key to avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning is prevention.

  • Fuel supplied heating systems –gas, oil, wood, coal- should be checked and serviced once a year by a professional. Make sure when the heating system is serviced or inspected that special attention is given to exhaust venting systems such as chimneys and flues. The venting system also needs to be checked for corrosion, loose connections and disconnection of chimney parts. Wood and coal burning stoves and fireplaces should have their chimneys cleaned at least once a year.
  • Even though the garage door may be open, never run any type of gas powered machinery or appliance in the garage. Generators, mowers, automobiles and fuel engine driven machines will exhaust carbon monoxide.  Also, never use a camp stove or any portable stove, barbecue, etc in the garage, house or any enclosed space. Carbon monoxide can very easily creep into the house and build up in enclosed places quickly reaching poisonous levels and may be fatal.
  • When appliances such as gas ranges and dryers are installed, always use a professional to do this. They will make sure it is installed to manufacturer’s specifications and meets all building code standards. This ensures they are operating properly and are not a source of carbon monoxide poisoning.

 

Another good preventative is installing Carbon Monoxide sensors. They should be installed in the hallway by bedrooms and on every level of the house. Be sure to purchase one that meets current safety standards and test the batteries twice a year. The average life span of a sensor is 2 years. Follow the manufacturer’s guideline for how often they need to be replaced.

If you suspect carbon monoxide in your home, you can check by using a badge or test kit. This is an inexpensive device which can be placed in a suspected area. The badge will change color within 15 minutes if carbon monoxide is detected. Even a slight change of color needs to be investigated immediately. If the badge does not change color it can be left in place for 60-90 days depending on what the manufacturer suggests.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Mental confusion
  • Unconsciousness
  • Dizziness
  • Flue like symptoms that come on suddenly with no fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

 

If you or your family have these symptoms and you suspect or have tested positive for levels of Carbon Monoxide, take immediate steps.

  • Clear the house!
  • Open the windows to ventilate and go to the emergency room!

 

Do not stay in the house or area as the undetectable gas can make a person very ill in a very short time, depending on the concentration. The symptoms can rapidly progress to unconsciousness and death. Awareness and prevention are the best way to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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