Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, colorless (i.e., invisible) gas that can cause injury and even death when high amounts are inhaled. While poisoning from this gas is preventable in most cases, tens of thousands of people are exposed every year, hundreds of whom are sickened and even killed.
The most common culprits are household appliances that are either misused or that malfunction. For instance, during power outages, you still need a source of power. People often turn to alternative sources of fuel to heat their homes or power generators for electricity.
Carbon monoxide is created when there’s not enough oxygen to burn the fuel, such as coal, gasoline, natural gas, oil, propane, wood, or wood pellets. It’s also found in secondhand smoke.
Furnaces, stoves, grills, generators, water heaters, clothes dryers, camp stoves, and car engines can all be sources of dangerous carbon monoxide if not properly ventilated or maintained or if malfunctioning. If high amounts are inhaled, carbon monoxide can be lethal within minutes. Even at lower levels, exposure can lead to brain damage and other long-term health issues.
To keep carbon monoxide from building up in your home:
- Avoid idling vehicles or other gas engines (such as lawnmowers, trimmers, generators, and snow blowers) in the garage, even with the garage door open
- Keep doors between the house and garage closed
- Avoid the use of barbecues and other fuel-burning equipment (such as a camp stove) in a home, garage, camper, tent, or vehicle
- Avoid the use of any kerosene or oil space heaters in enclosed areas unless designed for that use.
- Ensure appliances, fireplaces, and stoves are regularly inspected for leaks, cracks, blocks, or faulty installations. Also ensure they’re properly maintained.
Early indicators that you have been exposed to carbon monoxide include:
- Tiredness, even after a good night’s sleep
- Difficulty thinking
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Poor vision
If treatment isn’t immediate or at very high levels, people can convulse, lose consciousness, go into a coma, or die.
Fortunately, the ADT (now Telus) Carbon Monoxide Detector can alert your system whenever this poisonous gas is detected. This ensures your family stays safe, even if they’re sleeping and thus more vulnerable.
Every home should have at least one working carbon monoxide alarm installed, typically in the hallway near any sleeping areas and on every level of the house. Because carbon monoxide is lighter than air and thus rises, monitors should be installed at least 1.5 meters from the floor. If your monitor is battery-operated, remember to test it monthly and replace batteries when needed.
Although issues can happen any time of year, risks increase greatly during the winter as most homes are heated by furnaces, stoves, boilers, or other fuel-burning appliances. If you are alerted to carbon monoxide, immediately leave the area and seek medical help.
An ADT (now Telus) monitored alarm system from Alarm Guard will keep you feeling secure and protect your assets and could even 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 how to protect your home from carbon monoxide poisoning.