Winter is now in full swing. Each year, we hear tragic stories on the news about individuals or families who were killed trying to heat their homes unsafely. Carbon monoxide (CO) isn't something we usually give much thought, and that can come at a potentially devastating cost. CO poisoning kills an average of about 430 people each year in the United States. However, with proper preparation you can avoid the dangers of this silent and odorless killer.
Steps to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
1. Ensure your chimneys and fireplaces are thoroughly cleaned before regular usage to remove any existing blockage that would hold the carbon monoxide within your home.
2. If you need the use of a portable generator, ensure it is never used inside the home or garage. Make sure it's as far away from the home as possible.
3. Do not, under any circumstance, use a charcoal grill in your garage or covered patio.
4. Have all your home heating and cooking sources that use gas inspected annually to ensure proper operation and safety standards are adhered to.
5. Do not attempt to heat your home with a gas stove or oven.
6. Have carbon monoxide detectors installed and monitored.
7. Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and what to do if you feel it has taken place.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms Include:
- shortness of breath
- mental confusion
- loss of muscular coordination
- loss of consciousness
The above symptoms are listed in the usual order of occurrence, but are not always all noticeable or present. If you feel any number of these symptoms and you suspect a CO leak, immediately remove yourself, your family, and your pets from the home and call the fire department.
Remember to always be vigilant and observant for these symptoms and have a safe and happy winter!