is produced by a number of household sources such as fireplaces, furnaces,
stoves, dirty chimneys, or probably what people associate most with carbon
monoxide poisoning, the garage. In the winter we tend to spend a lot of
time inside which makes the quality of our indoor air even more important.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas produced by all fuel burning
appliances. According to the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, every
year more than 100 people die from unintentional exposure to carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning
deaths in America.
is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas. Each carbon
monoxide molecule is composed of a single carbon atom bonded to a single
oxygen atom. Carbon monoxide results from the incomplete combustion of
fossil fuels, such as wood, kerosene, gasoline, charcoal, propane, natural
gas, and oil.
All fuel burning appliances, especially heating systems and water heaters,
should be checked regularly for proper operation and venting by an authorized
and licensed service professional. If you have a garage attached to your
home you also need to know that carbon monoxide can easily move inside
your home from your attached garage. Never let your car idle inside the
garage. Start it up and move it out.
of carbon monoxide poisoning:
Are very similar
to those of the flu, headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and shortness
of breath. Carbon monoxide poisoning is most deadly at night when the
house is closed up and everyone is asleep. You do not realize you are
being poisoned until it is too late. If you suspect that you are experiencing
carbon monoxide poisoning, move to fresh air immediately! Contact your
local fire department and let them determine if it's safe for you to return
In order to keep
your home and family safe it's important to install at least one carbon
monoxide detector on each level of the home and near each sleeping area.
Try to get a carbon monoxide detector that records the level of carbon
monoxide in the air. This information is useful to determine the source
of your problem.
How Do Carbon Monoxide Detectors Work?
Carbon monoxide detectors trigger an alarm based on an accumulation of
carbon monoxide over time. Carbon monoxide can harm you if you are exposed
to high levels of carbon monoxide in a short period of time, or to lower
levels of carbon monoxide over a long period of time. Carbon monoxide
detectors require a continuous power supply, so if the power cuts off
then the alarm becomes ineffective. Models are available that offer back-up
new construction all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are required
to be hard wired on a separate circuit. This is not always practical in
older homes. A battery operated detector or plug in detector with a battery
backup helps to make sure that the system will work even in a power outage.
Many of these detectors will indicate when they are in need of replacement.
the manufacturers instructions to insure proper installation of a carbon
Where Should I Place a Carbon Monoxide Detector?
Because carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than air and also because
it may be found with warm, rising air, detectors should be placed on a
wall about 5 feet above the floor. The detector may be placed on the ceiling.
Do not place the detector right next to or over a fireplace or flame-producing
appliance. Keep the detector out of the way of pets and children. Each
floor needs a separate detector. If you getting a single carbon monoxide
detector, place it near the sleeping area and make certain the alarm is
loud enough to wake you up.
What Do I Do if the Alarm Sounds?
Don't ignore the alarm! It is intended to go off before you are experiencing
symptoms. Silence the alarm, get all members of the household to fresh
air, and ask whether anyone is experiencing any of the symptoms of carbon
monoxide poisoning. If anyone is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide
poisoning, call 911. If no one has symptoms, ventilate the building, identify
and remedy the source of the carbon monoxide before returning inside,
and have appliances or chimneys checked by a professional as soon as possible.
Taking a few moments to safeguard your home will keep you and your loved
ones from becoming a statistic.
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