Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that can be deadly if left unchecked. Sadly, it’s not something that most people think about until it’s too late. Knowing the symptoms of CO poisoning can help save lives. As we head into the winter season, when the risk of CO poisoning tends to be higher, it’s important to know how to keep your family safe. Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about CO safety, including what CO is, the symptoms of CO poisoning, and safety tips to protect yourself and your loved ones.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a gas created by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, such as natural gas, propane and gasoline. It can also be produced from certain household appliances, such as furnaces, water heaters and ovens. When CO is inhaled, it binds to hemoglobin in the blood, reducing the amount of oxygen that can be transported around the body. It can cause serious health problems, including brain damage and death.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The symptoms of CO poisoning can vary depending on the concentration of the gas in the air and the length of exposure. Symptoms can include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion and a feeling of weakness. In severe cases, CO poisoning can lead to unconsciousness and even death. It’s important to know the symptoms of CO poisoning to help protect yourself and your family.
Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips
1. Change or replace your CO detectors every 5-7 years: CO detectors have a lifespan, and over time, they can lose their effectiveness. Be sure to replace old detectors with newer models every 5-7 years.
2. Install a CO alarm outside of each sleeping area: Installing CO detectors in the right place can help you detect gas leaks before they become a serious problem. Ensure that a CO alarm is installed outside each sleeping area of your home.
3. Never leave a car running inside your garage – even with the door open: Fumes from the car’s exhaust can seep into your home, increasing the risk of CO poisoning.
4. Clean lint/debris from your dryer vents regularly: Lint and debris can quickly build up in your dryer vents, blocking the flow of air and creating an environment that’s perfect for CO to accumulate.
5. Inspect pilot lights to ensure the flame is blue: If the pilot light on your furnace or other gas-burning appliance is yellow, it’s a sign of incomplete combustion, which can lead to CO production.
6. Open the flue when using the fireplace: Fireplaces can produce CO, so it’s important to make sure your chimney flue is open to allow the gas to escape properly.
7. Never use gas or barbeque grills inside your garage: Never use a gas grill or barbeque grill inside your garage, as the flames can produce CO.
8. Never use your oven to heat your home: Using your oven to heat your home can also lead to CO buildup, so you should never ever do this.
9. If the CO alarm sounds, get to safety first: If the CO alarm goes off, exit your home immediately and go to a safe location. Call 911 from there.
10. If you notice any of the symptoms of CO poisoning, get to safety first: If you notice any of the symptoms of CO poisoning discussed above, vacate your home immediately and call 911 from a safe location.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can be deadly, but it’s preventable. By following these tips, you can protect yourself and your family from the dangers of CO. Remember to replace your detectors regularly, install them in the right place, and take steps to prevent gas leaks from your appliances. Together, we can all stay safe this winter. And don’t forget, at Carolina Cool, we’re always here to help. Our HVAC technicians can service your appliances and detect any potential CO issues, so you can enjoy the season with peace of mind.