If you live in a home that includes at least one appliance that burns fuel (a water heater, furnace, or boiler, for example), then you probably know how dangerous carbon monoxide can be. But do you know what causes a build-up of the potentially deadly gas – or what to do if someone living with you displays signs of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Here are some important reminders about carbon monoxide safety in your Hudson Valley home:
Carbon monoxide, or “CO”, is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced when you burn propane, wood, coal, heating oil, or any other fuel. In very small amounts, the gas is harmless – but if exposed to enough of the gas, a person can experience carbon monoxide poisoning, which can result in illness, disorientation, or, in extreme cases, death.
Carbon monoxide usually accumulates due to malfunctioning equipment or poor ventilation. A blocked vent or flue, a damaged or poorly maintained heating system, or overuse of an unvented heater can all cause a dangerous CO build-up in your home.
More than 20,000 people visit emergency rooms with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning each year.
Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning
Symptoms of CO poisoning worsen as exposure to the gas increases. With limited exposure, flu-like symptoms are common. Moderate exposure can lead to severe headaches, drowsiness, and disorientation. High exposure can lead to unconsciousness, cardiac arrest, and death. For more on CO poisoning symptoms, please visit the Mayo Clinic website.
If you notice CO poisoning symptoms,
Get fresh air immediately. Open windows and doors, then leave the house.
Report your symptoms to your doctor.
Get a professional inspection for your appliances before using them again.
Five ways to avoid CO dangers in your home
Here are the five best ways to prevent carbon monoxide dangers in your home:
Service your heating equipment regularly. An expert will spot issues before they pose risks to your family.
Install CO detectors on every floor of your home. Replace batteries once a year and replace the detector itself every five years.
Keep outdoor exhaust vents clear. Blocked exhaust vents can cause a dangerous buildup inside your home. Be sure to clear exhaust vents, flues, and other lines after all storms; use a broom rather than a shovel to avoid damaging your equipment.
Keep an eye on your pets. If your pet seems sick or unusually slow to awaken, take him or her outside, check your CO detectors, and open windows.
Never use outdoor equipment indoors. Barbecue grills, portable generators, and outdoor space heaters are not equipped for indoor use; they don’t have the hardware to safely event.
At Valley Oil your safety is always our #1 priority! If you have any questions about carbon monoxide safety, please contact us.