Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer because it is a highly toxic gas without any color or odor. Even a small amount of carbon monoxide can be deadly, especially to babies and young children, pregnant women, and seniors. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result in symptoms like nausea, headache, light-headedness, delirium and indigestion. The effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are difficult to detect or diagnose, and symptoms are often mistaken to be caused by influenza or gastroenteritis. The only way to detect carbon monoxide in your system is by getting a blood test done at a hospital.
The best defense against carbon monoxide gas is preventing its spread in your home and other surroundings. Observe some important aspects of home safety, such as installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home and office.
1. Proper Ventilation
Never operate fuel-burning appliances in enclosed surroundings. Never block the airflow to a fireplace. If you use space heaters, make sure they have sufficient room for ventilation.
2. Appliance Inspection and Care
If any of your appliances is malfunctioning, immediately stop use and have it repaired or replaced. Have your heater or furnace, fireplace and chimney inspected annually by a certified professional. Make sure the vents and chimneys are free from soot and chalk-like deposits.
3. Professional Installation
Never install gas stoves or furnaces yourself (unless you are qualified to do so). Improper installation of fuel-burning appliances can have devastating effects.
4. Signs to Watch For
A common sign of carbon monoxide in your home is condensation on the walls and windows, mostly in the vicinity of a fuel burning appliance. Another sign is a stale smell in your home, even when it has been cleaned recently.
5. Safe Use of Appliances
Never use portable fireplaces or grills indoors. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home.
6. Vehicle Safety
A running car emits carbon monoxide. In the winter, if you start your car and let it idle so that it warms up, never allow children or other occupants in the car. If there is a direct entry from the garage to your home, make sure it is closed. Carbon monoxide emitted from the car can quickly fill up the garage and spread to your living space. It is best to take an idling car outside the garage so you do not risk exposing yourself to the gas.
7. Boating Safety
Boat motors also generate large amounts of carbon monoxide. Have your boat regularly inspected and maintained. Clear obstructions from venting and exhaust systems. Inadequate ventilation can cause the boat cabin to fill with the deadly gas, and is the cause of many fatalities. Keep people away from the exhaust outlet of the boat when the motor is running.
8. Carbon Monoxide Detector
Using a reliable carbon monoxide detector is the only way you can be aware of carbon monoxide in your home. Install a carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home. Here is how to read your carbon monoxide detector.