6 Ways to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Leaks in Your Home
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas that can cause serious tissue damage and possibly death when too much builds up in the bloodstream. This can happen in a home with improperly ventilated appliances. Carbon monoxide safety is fairly simple to accomplish, however, with a few basic precautions.
Signs and symptoms of CO poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning is especially dangerous for people who are sleeping or intoxicated and, therefore, unaware of symptoms they may be experiencing and unable to remove themselves from the danger.
Carbon monoxide exposure is also particularly dangerous for unborn babies, young children, older adults, people with chronic heart disease, and anyone who is rendered unconscious as a result of CO exposure.
- Dull headache
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Blurred vision
- Loss of consciousness
How to prevent CO poisoning
1. Install and maintain CO detectors.
Locate the CO detectors in the hallway near each sleeping area in the home. Check the batteries at least twice a year, when you check your smoke detectors. If the alarm sounds, leave the house and call 911. CO detectors are also available for motorhomes and boats.
2. Practice vehicle safety.
Have the exhaust system in your car or truck checked each year. Always open the garage door before starting the vehicle and while the vehicle is running; if the garage is attached to the house, do not leave a vehicle running inside.
3. Follow all instructions on fuel-burning appliances and engines.
Use gas appliances, wood-burning stoves, charcoal grills and anything that produces combustion fumes in properly vented areas. Do not use any appliance designed for outdoor use inside your home or garage.
4. Maintain your fireplace.
Have the fireplace chimney and flue cleaned and serviced annually. If gas appliances are vented through the chimney, make sure the chimney liner is not compromised and leaking CO into your living space.
5. Use solvents cautiously and according to directions.
Pay careful attention when using solvents (such as methylene chloride commonly found in paint and varnish removers). Use them only outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
6. Maintain your heating and cooling system.
Dirty equipment and components can cause CO to leak inside your home. For example, the heat exchanger is designed to contain noxious gases, but if it cracks due to age or wear, it can no longer keep those gases, including CO, from leaking inside your living area. Schedule annual maintenance for your furnace and air conditioner to ensure they are functioning properly and safely.