Protecting Your Family from Carbon Monoxide

 In Air Quality

When you see or smell smoke inside your home, it’s a clear sign to get your family outside and call 9-1-1, even if you don’t hear the fire alarm. When it comes to carbon monoxide, however, you might not have that opportunity. It is poisonous, deadly and undetectable.

Tragically, more than 400 people in the United States die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year. As with most dangers, however, there are a number of things you can do to protect your family – and your home – from the dangers of carbon monoxide.

What is carbon monoxide, exactly?

According to the CDC, carbon monoxide (or CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill you. Whenever you burn fuel, whether in a car, stove, fireplace, gas range or furnace, toxic fumes are produced, including carbon monoxide. Exposure usually occurs when these appliances are either not working properly or they are not ventilated well enough.

When these dangerous fumes build up inside an enclosed space, they can poison people and pets. Infants and the elderly are most susceptible, as well as those with chronic heart disease and pre-existing breathing problems.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

When someone has been exposed to carbon monoxide, they may begin to experience a number of symptoms. Some of these might even appear at first like a mild flu. The most common symptoms  include dizziness, headache, upset stomach, weakness, vomiting, chest pain and confusion, according to the CDC. Some people may also pass out after exposure.

If someone in your household is experiencing these symptoms,  move them immediately to an open space with fresh air and call 9-1-1 for assistance.

Preventative measures

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a real threat, but you also shouldn’t live your life in constant fear. An up-to-date carbon monoxide detector with working batteries is your best tool for keeping your family safe. Place it somewhere that you will easily hear during the night.

Be sure to check the batteries on your carbon monoxide detector every spring and fall. Replace them as necessary, to guarantee it is in good working order. A quality device should only need replacing every five years.

Additional precautions include never using gasoline or charcoal-burning appliances inside, such as camp stoves and generators. You should not use a generator less than 20 feet away from a door, window or other type of vent.

To keep your home as safe as possible, the experts at the CDC also recommend “having your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.” Booking a recurring service, such as Barineau Heating & Air Conditioning’s Total Comfort Service Program, can make it easier to keep up with annual maintenance when it matters most. As with many household dangers, preventative measures are your best line of defense against carbon monoxide poisoning.

Every year, more than 20,000 people in the United States end up in the emergency room after exposure to carbon monoxide. Keep your family safe by following preventative measures and taking suspected symptoms seriously. Contact Barineau Heating and Air Conditioning today at 850.580.4029 to learn how we can routinely inspect and maintain safe ventilation for all your oil-, gas- and wood-burning devices and appliances to be sure they are operating properly.

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