Each year, about 170 people will die in the United States from a hazard that could have been prevented. That hazard is household carbon monoxide. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, those 170 individuals will lose their lives not because of the gas from their vehicles, but rather from gas found in their homes, gas they didn’t know was there. This risk is real, and it is serious. You need to know what you can do to protect your family.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide, or CO as it is also called, is a gas that has no odor or color and is found in combustion fumes. While there is no way to know if it’s present in your home with just your own senses, it can cause illness and even death, and quite suddenly. Because of this risk, you must do what you can to protect your home and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning.
What Are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Recognizing the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the fist steps in protecting yourself. The Centers for Disease Control indicates the following are symptoms of CO poisoning:
- Chest pain
Because these symptoms mimic many other illnesses, CO poisoning is often overlooked. Also, people who are sleeping rarely wake up because of these symptoms, so they can die in their sleep without realizing something is wrong.
Where Carbon Monoxide Comes From
Carbon monoxide can come from many areas of your home. Most people know it comes from cars, and homes with attached garages can be a problem. However, it can also come from unvented kerosene and gas space heaters. Furnaces and chimneys that are not properly vented can also be a source. Gas stoves and water heaters also have the potential to add CO to your home. Finally, fireplaces are yet another culprit.
As you can imagine from this list, every home has some CO in it. The average level in a home with no gas stove is about 0.5 to 5 parts per million, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Add a gas stove and the number increases to 30 parts per million. These are safe levels. At about 70 parts per million, some people begin experiencing symptoms. Concentrations above 150 to 200 can be deadly. Because the risk is present in almost every home, CO cannot be overlooked in yours if you want to keep your family safe.
Protecting Your Family
Protecting your family from the risks associated with carbon monoxide requires taking some practical steps. The most important thing to do is to install a CO detector on all levels of your home. You need one that meets the requirements of the UL 2034 safety standards. Try to add one near the sleeping areas of your home.
In addition to installing the CO alarm, you can do the following:
- Install and use appliances according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Have your HVAC system professionally inspected every year.
- Ask your HVAC inspector to check flues and chimneys as well.
- Do not operate engine-powered tools in enclosed spaces.
- Do not service fuel-burning systems, like your furnace, without professional knowledge and the right tools.
- Do not use fuel-burning camping gear inside your garage, home or tent.
- Do not burn charcoal inside your home or garage.
- Do not leave your car running in an attached garage, even if you open the door.
- Do not use an appliance, like the oven or range, to heat your home.
- Do not use aluminum foil on the bottom of gas or propane ovens.
- Leave vents and chimneys open at all times, even during renovations to the home.
If you have further questions about keeping your family safe from the risks of CO, Griffith Energy Services, Inc., is ready to help. Our expert technicians understand the surprising areas of your home that can cause problems with CO. Let us come to your Baltimore area home and give your home a thorough inspection, so you can be certain your family is safe from this hidden danger. Contact us today to learn more about protecting your family from CO.
Written by Kevin Spain