Fire Safety Awareness

Protecting your Household from Carbon Monoxide


The threat of carbon monoxide poisoning is something that scarcely crosses the minds of most people but is unfortunately very real. In fact, January is the most common month of the year for carbon monoxide related accidents. The increased use of fuel-burning and alternative heat sources like furnaces, propane heaters and portable generators is the main reason for the heightened danger during this cold month, but the fact that symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can easily be confused with a cold or the flu is also a factor.

Carbon monoxide is the deadly gas that is produced by fuels like natural gas, coal, wood, oil, charcoal, kerosene or propane that are not completely burned away when heated. Since it is both colorless and odorless, it is almost completely undetectable until poisoning or even death has occurred. This is why it is extremely important to install carbon monoxide detectors in every home.

According to the CDC, at least 2 people in the U.S. die each day from carbon monoxide poisoning during the month of January, which is 3 times the rate at which this is known to occur during the summer. It is clear to see that this is the time when we all need to make extra precautions when keeping our homes properly heated and our loved ones protected from the cold.

Here are some easy ways you can prevent dangerous or even deadly accidents from occurring in your home this winter:

  • Install battery operated carbon monoxide detectors on every floor in your home. There are many detectors that work double duty to detect both smoke and CO at the same time.
  • Hire a qualified professional to inspect your home heating system, water heater and any other fuel burning appliance in the house annually.
  • Never use a generator inside your home if the power has gone out. They need plenty of ventilation in order to reduce the poisonous threat they pose to your health and should always be kept outside. The same goes for any fuel burning heat source that is meant for outdoor use, like grills or charcoal burning appliances.
  • Never use a stove or fireplace that is not properly ventilated to allow harmful gases to easily exit the home.
  • Never use a gas oven as a heating source for your home or any other appliances like the stove top or clothes dryer.
  • If you have a garage, never leave an automobile running inside where someone might ending up breathing the harmful gases it creates.

These are some simple ways to prevent harmful CO from entering your home, but if you already have a problem with the dangerous gas, there can be some telltale signs and symptoms. If you do not have a properly functioning carbon monoxide detector in your home and you think you may be experiencing CO poisoning you should contact your emergency service provider (9-1-1) or local poison control center after evacuating the premises.

Here are some common symptoms of CO poisoning:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of muscular coordination
  • Loss of consciousness

As you can see the symptoms of CO poisoning are those that can be easily confused with a cold or the flu. For this reason you should be extra careful not to abuse emergency response services and take the important steps to preventing and detecting carbon monoxide in your home first and Foremost.


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