Clearing the Air: How to Protect Against Carbon Dioxide Poisoning

carbon dioxide poisoning
Photo by Matt Jones on Unsplash

When we think about keeping our homes safe, healthy, and happy, we may never even consider carbon dioxide poisoning. Yet this colorless, odorless gas can lead to various health problems for you and your family. It can also lead to damage to the home and may even risk death if not addressed, which is why it’s so vital to protect against carbon dioxide poisoning.

What Is Carbon Dioxide?

Carbon dioxide or CO2 is a gas naturally found in the earth’s atmosphere, and at the normal levels found outdoors, it generally poses little direct risk to human health.

Unfortunately, when gas, coal, or wood are burned indoors in gas stoves, gas heaters, or fireplaces or wood stoves without appropriate ventilation, the quality of the indoor air can quickly diminish. When not running correctly or efficiently, gas heaters or stoves also run the risk of leaking CO2. Both scenarios pose a concern for CO2 poisoning.

The good news is that these types of heating mechanisms have been designed to protect against risks by venting the gases outdoors. However, things do wear down and can break. Venting may get clogged, or excess CO2 can leak into the house, which can lead to an increased risk of:

  • Respiratory issues, such as shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Elevated heart rate as your body tries to take in more oxygen
  • Headaches and dizziness, which can make it difficult to concentrate and can negatively affect how people think, causing confusion and impairing judgment
  • Nausea and vomiting, especially as levels of CO2 build in the body
  • Displaced oxygen, which could cause asphyxiation and potentially be life-threatening
  • Chronic, lower-level CO2 exposure can also increase the risk of cardiovascular problems as well as other chronic diseases. Infants, young children, seniors, and elderly family members, as well as those with pre-existing conditions, are the most vulnerable to CO2 poisoning.

It’s not just the people and pets at risk of dangerous issues with CO2. CO2 leaks, if not promptly taken care of, can lead to costly property damage, such as fires or explosions.

The costs for a CO2 leak can add up as well as you repair property damage, take time off to address any health concerns, or if someone else is affected, the homeowner may have legal liabilities and attorney’s fees. All of which can increase stress levels. Property damage or an inefficient heating system may also negatively affect the home’s resale value.

Steps to Protect Against Carbon Dioxide Poisoning

Some of the best ways to protect against carbon dioxide poisoning for your home and family are to:

  • Regularly maintain your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC), having them professionally checked to make sure they are working efficiently.
  • Ensure you have proper ventilation, which allows indoor and outdoor air to circulate. For example, use exhaust fans, open fireplace vents, and ensure there are no ventilation blocks. You may also want to open windows to allow the air to flow on warmer or more mild winter days.
  • Be careful when choosing devices to heat indoor spaces or to cook inside. Some fossil fuel-burning equipment should only be used outdoors in the open air. Avoid, for instance, using a kerosene or propane heater indoors unless it is designed for indoor use and is properly vented.
  • Regularly having fireplaces or wood stoves inspected and cleaned out can also help protect against a possible CO2 leak in the home.

Rather than simply watching for symptoms that you’ve been exposed to increased levels of CO2, such as headaches, fatigue, dizziness, or nausea, carbon dioxide detectors can help you better monitor the air quality in your home.

One popular tool to help protect against carbon monoxide poisoning is installing a home alarm system with a CO2 detector. These detectors can alert you immediately as CO2 levels become unsafe and provide early warnings, so you can get your family to safety and address the problem as quickly as possible. Monitors provide precise readings, so you can be confident they’re accurately detecting CO2 levels and preventing carbon dioxide poisoning.

Smart home alarm systems can send real-time alerts directly to your phone (if you’re away from home) as well as trigger audible and visual alarms within the house to make you aware of the potential danger of carbon dioxide poisoning.

In addition, some home alarm systems provide professional monitoring, which can promptly dispatch services if high levels of CO2 are detected. So, you will have an immediate response providing assistance to get any people or pets out of your home safely.

carbon dioxide poisoning
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

What to Do If a CO2 Leak Is Detected

Don’t wait. Immediately turn off or stop running the faulty heater or stove. Open the windows and doors to allow fresh air to circulate. You’ll also want to help all vulnerable family members or friends get outside for fresh air and to a safe location. If anyone has any symptoms, please seek medical attention.

Of course, you’ll also want to get outside yourself as you make appointments for repairs or to remove or fix the issue.

Takeaway: Why and How to Protect Against Carbon Dioxide Poisoning

CO2 is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas—and if levels get too high, it can lead to serious, potentially even fatal consequences. It can also lead to costly repairs of the affected heating or ventilation system.

Ensuring your home and living spaces provide good indoor air quality can help keep you and your family safe. So, it’s important to properly maintain your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. In addition, you can set your home up with a smart monitoring system, so any CO2 leaks are detected before they lead to increased risks and costs—financial as well as emotional.

An ADT (now Telus) monitored alarm system from Alarm Guard provides added security for you, your property, and your family. Plus, it could help you save on homeowner’s insurance! Check out our packages and call now for a free quote at 1-855-518-4458 and talk with an expert about a customized package to keep your home safe and secure.

Even if you set up a system without professional monitoring, with Telus, you’ll find responsive customer service and technical support to help keep your home safe and protect against even little-known or invisible dangers.

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