Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning in Your Home

Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, and that is why it is so deadly. Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels like natural gas, wood, kerosene, gasoline, oil, charcoal, or coal do not have sufficient oxygen to burn completely.

Symptoms

In general, carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms can include nausea, headache, mental confusion, weakness, and shortness of breath. Carbon monoxide poisoning often is recorded as creating flu-like signs.

The Causes of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Winters: 

Stove and Furnaces: 

According to the EMTs and fire chiefs, the primary cause for carbon monoxide poisoning is a malfunctioning stove and furnace. They suggest having your furnace examined by a certified furnace technician in early fall or late summer so that you know your furnace is functioning correctly when the heating season comes.

If your furnace has vent lines near ground level outside your house, check the lines when the temperature is below freezing to ensure they are not plugged by ice or snow.

Garages

Garages can also be a reservoir of carbon monoxide. When the weather is freezing, people will start their car in a garage connected to a home to let it warm up. But even with the garage door open, CO can leak in your home. If the weather is cold for a week or more, the carbon monoxide can ultimately build-up to the house’s dangerous level. And because new houses are built to be energy-efficient and air-tight, the carbon monoxide has little opportunity to escape. If you want to let your car run for a while to heat it, back it out of the garage and shut the door.

In ‘the olden days’ when families lived in houses where the curtains moved in the winter, you never heard of anyone dying due to carbon monoxide.  

Alternative Sources of Heat

Suppose the power goes out in the winter. In that case, families are sometimes tempted to keep their house warm until the electricity returns by turning on a gas oven and opening the door or starting a charcoal grill or gas grill inside the home. Never use a barbecue grill or a gas oven to heat your home. 

Carbon monoxide can also be an issue when certain areas of a house — or a workshop or a garage — are unusually cold and families use a fuel-burning space heater (kerosene is a good example) to enjoy additional heat. Before employing a fuel-burning space heater, a certified professional can get it properly checked out to make sure that it is operating correctly.Be sure to handle it in a well-ventilated area by opening doors and windows.

Other sources of Carbon Monoxide in our homes include 

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Clothes dryers
  • Water heaters
  • Wood stoves

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  1. Accurately vent and secure fuel-burning appliances: It is essential to know what instruments in your home are fuel-burning and ensure that they are adequately maintained. All of these appliances should be vented to the outside. 
  2. Installing CO Alarms: If you have fuel-consuming appliances, an attached garage, a fireplace, consider installing these unique devices in your home. They can detect CO in the air and caution you. 
  3. Schedule regular maintenance: At least once a year, have a qualified technician inspect your fuel-burning devices to ensure they continue to operate correctly.

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