As summer turns to fall, we begin to think about getting our homes ready for winter. One of the best ways to keep the house warm inside and to save on winter heating costs is to seal windows and doors to prevent cold air from sneaking in and warm air from seeping out. A potential danger of this winterizing technique, however, is that it can also seal in a deadly gas called carbon monoxide. How can you be sure you will be safe in your warm and cozy home this winter? The first step is to learn all you can about carbon monoxide.
Where Does Carbon Monoxide Come From?
Any time you burn fuel, there is a byproduct of fumes that contains carbon monoxide, or CO. Small engines, furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, lanterns, grills, gas ranges, and cars and trucks all produce CO emissions. If these gases are allowed to build up due to a lack of proper ventilation, they are toxic to humans and animals. When houses are shut tight against cold weather, the build-up of poisonous fumes is more likely, making winter the riskiest season for CO poisoning.
How Can I Protect My Family?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a comprehensive list of steps to take to safeguard your home this fall and winter. Their suggestions include the following:
- Install a CO detector in your home and check the batteries regularly.
- Have all gas, coal, or oil burning appliances such as furnaces and water heaters inspected every year.
- Have your chimney checked and cleaned every year. A chimney blocked by debris can force CO into your home.
- Never use a gas range or oven for heat.
- Never burn charcoal indoors.
- Never use portable gas camp stove indoors.
- Never run your car or truck in an attached garage for more than a minute, even with the door open.
- Have the exhaust system of your vehicle inspected every year. A leak in the exhaust system could cause CO to build up in your car.
The symptoms of CO poisoning can look like many minor illnesses: dizziness, headaches, an upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. If you are asleep when breathing in the fumes, you could die before you even experience symptoms. Anyone can die from breathing in CO, but infants, the elderly, and those with heart disease, asthma, or anemia are most at risk. Small animals in the home may die before people even feel sick. This is why it is so important to make sure your home is safe from CO leaks.
Over 400 people die every year due to unintentional CO poisoning. Another 20,000 people visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized. If you suspect a defective product may have led to a CO poisoning in your home, contact us as soon as possible for a free consultation.