What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide, also known as the silent killer, or “CO,” is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill you. CO is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in furnaces, cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, or gas ranges. CO can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it.
What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” If you breathe in a lot of CO it can make you pass out or kill you.
Who is at risk from CO poisoning?
Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning. Infants, the elderly, people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or breathing problems are more likely to get sick from CO. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized.
How can I prevent CO poisoning in my home?
- Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each Spring and Fall. Place your detector where it will wake you up if it alarms, such as outside your bedroom. Consider buying a detector with a digital readout. This detector can tell you the highest level of CO concentration in your home in addition to alarming. Replace your CO detector every five years.
- Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, or oil burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
- Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors.
- When you buy gas equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency, such as Underwriters’ Laboratories.
- Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly. Horizontal vent pipes for appliances, such as a furnace or water heater, should go up slightly as they go toward outdoors.
- Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys can be blocked by debris. This can cause CO to build up inside your home.
- Never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum, or something else.
- Never use a gas range or oven for heating. Using a gas range or oven for heating can cause a build up of CO inside your home.
- Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal – red, gray, black, or white – gives off CO.
- Never use a portable gas camp stove indoors. Using a gas camp stove indoors can cause CO to build up inside your home.
- Never use a generator inside your home, basement, or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent.
- When using a generator, use a battery-powered or battery backup CO detector in your home.
Concerned about carbon monoxide in your home? Give us a call. A malfunctioning or inefficient heating system could be the cause of carbon monoxide poisoning or other illness for you or your family. Our technicians have the knowledge and the tools to test and inspect for carbon monoxide issues.