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Must Know Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

Keep Your Home Safe With These Must Know Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

Keeping your home and family safe against the dangers of carbon monoxide is important all year round, but in the winter months when the use of carbon-monoxide-producing appliances increases it’s more important than ever to ensure you’re protecting your loved ones from the potential dangers this gas can bring.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas that is produced by the incomplete burning of fuels. This gas can be released by many items in and around your home that run on gas or other fuels like kerosene or wood burning. This includes hot water heaters, furnaces, stoves and other appliances, fireplaces, cars and heaters.

How Can You Keep Your Home Safer?

It is absolutely necessary to have good quality, functioning carbon monoxide detectors in your home. It’s not just good practice, it’s the law! You need to have a detector on every level of your home and in the vicinity of any sleeping areas. Carbon monoxide is often called the silent killer. Unlike a fire, it cannot be seen, heard, tasted or smelled. A CO detector is required to alert you of this dangerous gas in your home. They come in a variety of brands and styles, including duel fire/CO detectors. Whatever type you select, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation, maintenance and testing. It is advised that you test your alarms at least once a month and be sure that they are operational with working batteries. Don’t wait for your batteries to die before replacing them – keep a schedule for replacing your batteries to ensure your detector is always powered.

In addition to working carbon monoxide detectors, there are many ways you can reduce the chances of a carbon monoxide leak in your home:

  • Have your chimney regularly cleaned and inspected, particularly at the start of the season.
  • Regularly check your appliances for cracks, leaks, improper installation and bad connections to gas lines.
  • Make yearly maintenance of all your fuel-burning appliances and utilities a regular occurrence and use a professional. This includes your furnace, hot water heater, stove, etc.
  • Do not use items meant for outdoors inside or in an enclosed area, like a gas-powered generator or other gas-powered items like heaters or grills.
  • Check to make sure the vents for your stove, fireplace, furnace and dryer are clean and unobstructed. This includes during or after a snowfall. Be sure to check that all vents are properly in place and not corroded.
  • Do not leave a vehicle to idle in the garage. If you need to warm up your car, pull it out onto your driveway immediately after starting it up.
  • Keep the door between your home and attached garages closed.
  • Do not allow smoking indoors.

Know the Signs

Even with a working carbon monoxide detector, it is important to know the signs of CO poisoning so you can get to safety and get help quickly.

Early signs of low-level carbon monoxide poisoning include tiredness, headaches, shortness of breath, muscle weakness or even difficulty using your arms or legs. At higher levels or prolonged exposure, you might experience difficulty thinking, impaired vision, chest pain or dizziness. High levels of carbon monoxide poisoning can cause coma, convulsions and death. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious risk and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Those most at risk are children, elderly people, pregnant women and anyone who suffers from existing lung or heart problems.

Follow these life-saving tips to protect yourself and your family against the dangers of carbon monoxide leaks in your home. If you believe there is a leak in your home, or your CO detector sounds an alert, leave your home immediately and call emergency personnel for help. Do not reenter your home until it has been cleared by the proper authorities.

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