Most people are aware of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, and they may have taken sensible precautions, such as installing a carbon monoxide detector. We hear about the risks of carbon monoxide regularly, but many people are still unsure about the dangers. In this article, we will take a closer look at carbon monoxide, what it is, the potential danger it represents, and how you can protect your family against it.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that cannot be detected without a specialized detection unit. This is a dangerous gas, and the danger is compounded because it can go unnoticed for some time. In many cases, people die from carbon monoxide poisoning without ever realizing that the gas is present in their homes. The risk of poisoning is elevated during the colder months due to an increase in the use of certain appliances, including heaters, stoves, generators, and more.

Where Does This Gas Come From?

Carbon Monoxide is the residue left behind when gas is burned inefficiently. Many home appliance fuel types can be the source of this gas, such as coal, oil, charcoal, wood, propane, and natural gas. Appliances where carbon monoxide leaks can occur include ovens, water heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, wood stoves, charcoal grills, lawnmowers, generators, propane grills, space heaters, and even vehicles. It’s likely that you own at least one of these appliances, and this puts you at a potential risk for CO poisoning. Of course, it would be virtually impossible to remove this risk entirely because we rely on many of these appliances every day. But, you can take steps to protect your family against carbon monoxide poisoning.

What Are the CO Poisoning Symptoms?

One of the most insidious aspects of carbon monoxide poisoning is the nature of the symptoms. Many of the early symptoms can be confused with a bad cold or a bout of flu. Because CO poisoning is more likely in winter, this can make it harder to identify poisoning as the reason why a family member feels ill. The most common early symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, nausea, dizziness, feeling fatigued, and shortness of breath. But, if exposure occurs over a prolonged period of time, the symptoms can be more serious, such as vomiting, feeling confused, vomiting, and a loss of consciousness. In fact, if carbon monoxide poisoning isn’t treated, it can be fatal, and many people are affected every year.

How Can I Prevent CO Poisoning in My Home?

As you can see, carbon monoxide poisoning is dangerous, but there are five ways that you can minimize the risks for your family, they are:

  1. Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Key Locations

Many people have a single carbon monoxide detector installed in their homes already. But, you need a correct installation and multiple detectors in key locations. It’s a good idea to install one detector on each floor to ensure that you will always hear an alarm. Place detectors outside of any sleeping areas, and you will be more likely to wake up. Detectors should be installed on ceilings because gas rises and draft areas should be avoided. Carbon monoxide detectors located near appliances are a good idea, but distances less than 15 feet can cause false alarms. Detectors in direct sunlight or near bathrooms can be triggered by heat and steam. Installing carbon monoxide detectors is your essential first line of defense against CO leaks.

  1. Regular CO Detector Testing

Even if you have multiple detectors installed at the ideal locations, they won’t be much help if they are not working. So. it’s incredibly important to develop a routine to test them regularly. The best time is at the beginning of each month, and you can change the batteries if they are low on charge. When you know the detectors are functioning as intended; you will have peace of mind.

  1. Establish a Clear Emergency Plan

Many businesses have regular fire drills, but this isn’t the case for carbon monoxide poisoning, and this is especially true in homes. The last thing you need when an alarm is triggered is confusion about what happens next. Make sure everyone in the home knows the sounds of each alarm and that they know how to get out of the home quickly. This will ensure that everyone knows what to do in an emergency and they don’t get left behind.

  1. Clean the Filter in Your Gas Dryer

A gas dryer isn’t at the top of the list when it comes to appliances that can produce carbon monoxide. But, it is a potential risk, and it’s easy to reduce the risk with regular filter cleaning. Over time, lint can build up in the filter, and this can increase the risks of CO poisoning. When the vent is blocked, the carbon monoxide can build up inside the dryer, and it can leak. A clogged filter is also a significant fire risk, so it makes good sense to clean it after each drying cycle.

  1. Essential Appliance Maintenance

The appliances that could cause a CO leak should be inspected, cleaned, and serviced regularly. This will reduce the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning, and there are other benefits. Appliances that are regularly maintained work more efficiently; they are less likely to fail, earlier repairs cost less, and the useful lifespan is typically longer. It’s also essential to clean and maintain chimneys, vents, ducts, and other connectors that remove CO gas outdoors.

In Conclusion

Now that you have a better idea of the risks and signs of a carbon monoxide leak, you are in a better position to deal with the problem. Remember the mild flu-like symptoms of early exposure, and if you’re in any doubt, seek medical advice. A Doctor should be able to tell you whether you have flu or if you’ve been exposed to CO gas. It’s important to adopt a proactive approach to carbon monoxide with regular professional help.

If you want to learn more about protecting your family from carbon monoxide exposure, contact your local HVAC specialist today.