Often called “the silent killer,” because you can’t see it, smell it, or taste it, carbon monoxide can be a serious problem—even a fatal one at times—for homeowners and their families. Overexposure to this invisible, odorless, poisonous gas can cause flu-like symptoms, serious sickness, and even death. If you can’t see it or smell carbon monoxide, how can you know if your home is safe from it? The first thing to understand is where carbon monoxide comes from.
Any appliance in your home that burns fuel—such as a gas furnace, gas stove, or gas hot water heater—creates carbon monoxide during the burning process. Liquid fuel space heaters, including kerosene heaters and wood stoves, can also emit carbon dioxide.
The only way to be positive that your home is safe from a buildup of carbon monoxide is to install carbon monoxide detectors. These devices are easy to find and install—simply purchase them at your local hardware store and install at least one on each floor of your home. Take special care to place the detectors nearest your home’s bedrooms. Lastly, remember to keep fresh batteries in each alarm and test each device regularly to ensure that it is working properly. If your carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move immediately to fresh air and call 911.
However, as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Preventing carbon monoxide poisoning necessitates some mindfulness around the home, but most of the following tips are part of common homeowner safety. To help prevent carbon monoxide from building up in your home:
• Never leave your car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.
• Don’t attempt to repair any appliances that burn fuel such as a furnace, dryer, or hot water heater by yourself—call the professionals in to do the job correctly. Defective venting or ductwork can cause a buildup of carbon monoxide inside your house.
• Don’t use a gas range or oven for extra heat in your home—use a proper space heater and ensure that it is vented correctly.
• Never use charcoal grills or camp stoves inside the house or in the garage.
• Don’t use gasoline-powered tools inside the house.
• Never allow anyone to sleep in a room with a gas appliance that isn’t connected to an exterior vent.
To further ensure the safety of you and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning, call the HVAC experts to inspect your heating system and furnace, your water heater, your vents, your chimney, and your fireplace or wood stove. These pros can ensure that all your appliances are working efficiently and that your home is properly ventilated.
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