One of the most dangerous yet preventable threats in your home is carbon monoxide. Because November is Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month, this is a good time to learn about how to avoid falling victim to this potentially deadly, colorless and odorless gas.
Understanding what carbon monoxide is, how it can be produced in a house and being able to spot the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are crucial for maintaining a safe living environment.
By spreading awareness during Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month, we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from the risks associated with carbon monoxide exposure.
What Is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide, also called CO, is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that is formed when carbon-based fuels, such as gasoline, oil, coal or wood, do not burn completely. It is highly toxic and can be deadly when inhaled.
What Causes Carbon Monoxide in a House?
Common sources of carbon monoxide in a home include gas- or kerosene-powered heaters, gas-powered water heaters, stoves and furnaces. When they operate correctly, these appliances do not cause carbon monoxide to build up in your home. However, they can emit the gas if they malfunction.
Due to the dangers of carbon monoxide, it’s important to ensure your HVAC equipment is well-maintained and in good working order. Scheduling routine furnace maintenance is a cost-effective and easy way to make sure your heating equipment is working correctly. It has the additional benefits of catching small issues before they become big problems, and even extending the life of your HVAC equipment.
What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when an excessive amount of carbon monoxide accumulates in the bloodstream. When inhaled, carbon monoxide displaces oxygen in the body, leading to a range of symptoms and potentially life-threatening consequences.
Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Because you can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, it’s important to know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. If you do get sick, it’s crucial to get to a safe place right away because time is of the essence.
Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Confusion or impaired judgment
- Blurred vision
- Chest pain
- Loss of consciousness
What to Do if You Suspect Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
If you suspect that you or someone in your home is sick with carbon monoxide poisoning, it’s important to take action immediately. Get to fresh air right away. If you can, get everyone out of the house into the outdoors. Once outside, call 911 immediately.
Even if people in your home aren’t showing severe symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, because the gas is so deadly it’s important to get them evaluated by a medical professional.
Do not go back into the building until emergency services has determined if there is a carbon monoxide leak and, if so, rectified it and deemed the building safe.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors Save Lives
Carbon monoxide detectors are crucial in saving lives by alerting people to the presence of this silent, deadly gas. To effectively utilize carbon monoxide detectors for prevention, it is important to install them in strategic locations throughout your home. The best place to put a carbon monoxide detector is near sleeping areas, because people can die of carbon monoxide poisoning by inhaling the gas while they sleep.
There are multiple kinds of carbon monoxide detectors, including some that only alert you to carbon monoxide, to units that are a combination of smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm.