A silent and often deadly predator could be lurking in your home. It could be their with no warning, nothing looking amiss or out of place, and can strike when you least expect it. That predator is carbon monoxide poisoning. It can be lethal to you and your family, and you need to know how to see the signs, prevent them, and protect those you love.
First, know that carbon monoxide comes from appliances that we all have in our homes: our heaters, central air units, and other appliances, even our vehicles. It has no odor, color, and doesn’t have a taste, so if it is leaking you would have no way to know. This is one of the reasons it is so deadly. Basically, carbon monoxide prevents your body from getting enough oxygen. It affects people of all ages, but kids are especially at risk. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, there are several proactive steps you can take.
First, install several carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Often you can purchase these as a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector, which is a great idea. It will be set to sound a loud alarm when carbon monoxide is detected in the air, alerting you to evacuate. Always check the batteries on these alarms twice a year. Many people check and change the batteries on time change days in the spring and fall. It’s easy to remember and you can write it on the calendar.
You can also make sure that all of your appliances that use gas are working correctly. Larger appliances like clothes dryers, stoves, and heaters, are checked and inspected yearly to make sure they aren’t leaking carbon monoxide.
Check your fireplace to make sure the flue is open when the fireplace is in use, and always have a professional to inspect your fireplace yearly. Wood burning stoves and fireplaces are a large emitter of carbon monoxide and need to be properly vented.
Never use a charcoal grill inside the home. They can emit carbon monoxide and it can be lethal. They should only be used outdoors or in the garage with the door raised to allow proper ventilation.
Have your vehicle checked regularly to be certain the emissions/exhaust system is working well. You should also never leave the car running inside the closed garage, even to let it warm up or cool off in extreme conditions. It will trap carbon monoxide in the air and can be a silent killer.
The immediate symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning would include headache and nausea, as well as being confused, feeling dizzy or faint, or having a hard time getting deep breaths. Long term symptoms (aside from death) would be brain damage, memory loss, or injury to the lungs. If you recognize these signs in anyone living in your home you should all evacuate immediately and call the fire department. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you will probably need to be seen and treated by EMS or a doctor to make sure you are okay. Fire department officials can check for a carbon monoxide leak and let you know when it is safe to reenter the residence.
Death and injury from carbon monoxide can be prevented if you know what to watch for. Don’t let this silent predator wreak havoc on your family! Have you installed a carbon monoxide detector in your house? If not, do it today!