Carbon monoxide has been called a “silent killer,” and is responsible for more than 430 deaths in the United States each year. This toxic gas is formed by the incomplete burning of fuels such as kerosene, natural gas, or even wood. It is important to understand the sources of carbon monoxide and how to prevent poisoning if you are to keep your family safe.
One common way that carbon monoxide may enter your home is through an attached garage. Idling a car engine inside your garage can raise carbon monoxide levels by up to 500 ppm in only two minutes, even if you do so with the door open. You could expect the air inside your garage to maintain high levels of carbon monoxide for up to ten hours afterwards. Between 5% and 85% of the air in your garage can subsequently leak into your house, leaving you with dangerously high levels.
To be on the safe side, you should never idle your vehicle inside your garage, but instead back it out first. If your hobby is rebuilding or tinkering with motors, you should install an exhaust fan, and ensure the wall between your house and garage is tightly sealed. Always open doors and windows whenever possible as well.
Risks inside your home
A number of appliances inside your home may also emit carbon monoxide, including:
- Cook stove
- Water heater
- Portable heaters
- Wood stoves and fireplaces
- Portable generators
Gas and charcoal cooking grills and wood-fired smokers may also emit carbon monoxide. These appliances should never be used indoors under any circumstances.
Preventing CO poisoning
There are actually several things you can do to reduce your odds of developing CO poisoning, including:
- Having equipment such as stoves, heaters, and water heaters serviced on a regular basis. Appliances that are not functioning properly are more likely to emit harmful gases.
- Avoid operating gasoline-powered equipment such as generators, chain saws, and pressure washers indoors, even when doors and windows are fully open.
- Having fireplace and wood stove chimneys professionally cleaned at least once each year.
- Using grills and portable camping stoves at least 20 feet away from your home. Never assume it is safe to cook on a covered porch or patio that’s directly attached to your home.
Signs and symptoms
Even when you take the right precautions, it is still possible to be affected. Some signs that carbon monoxide poisoning has occurred include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- General confusion
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
If you observe these signs, it is important to seek medical attention at once. Call 911, and then go outdoors while you are waiting for an ambulance to arrive. If you are unable to go outdoors, open as many doors and windows as possible and remain close to one of them so you can catch some fresh air.
Protect yourself and your family
If high levels of carbon monoxide enter your home while you are sleeping, the results could be fatal. You don’t have to succumb to CO poisoning, when we offer a variety of affordable systems that will monitor your home and alert you if this gas is detected. We invite you to contact us today to learn more and ensure that you and your loved ones are all protected.