Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The temperatures drop and we flip on our furnaces. Tossing clothes in our gas dryers and cooking on gas stove tops. We light fires in our fireplaces or heating stoves and heat our water in gas-fueled water heaters. In addition, we drive cars with combustion engines.

These may be unremarkable facts of our daily lives, but we should be paying attention to all of these things. The combustion appliances that fill our homes create carbon monoxide. What happens if a system isn’t well maintained, malfunctions, or is improperly used? It puts us and our families in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Most people know the dangers of carbon monoxide and hope to protect their families from the dangers of the gas. Nevertheless, an estimated 200 people or more die each year and thousands more are sickened by carbon monoxide in their homes. There are steps you should be taking to keep you and your family safe from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Those steps include:

  • Performing annual maintenance and cleaning of gas- and oil-burning appliances.
    If your gas- or oil-fueled appliances or their vents fail, carbon monoxide can build up rapidly within your home. For that reason, appliances that require combustion should be cleaned and inspected at least once per year. That includes furnaces, fireplaces, heating stoves, gas-fueled clothing dryers and hot water heaters.
  • Keeping vents clear.
    Heating and dryer vents can become obstructed for a variety of reasons. Snow can pile high around outdoor vents in the winter. Animals can nest within unprotected vents. Contractors or do-it-yourself-ers can inadvertently cover vents during renovations. Check vents regularly and after major weather events to make sure they are free to exhaust your appliances.
  • Never operate combustion appliances in non-ventilated areas.
    Cars should never be left running in garages, even with the doors open. Gas generators should never be run within the home. In addition, outdoor appliances like camp stoves, portable heaters, and grills should never be operated indoors.

Install a carbon monoxide detector!

Install carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of your home and near all sleeping areas. Check your carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are operating properly at least once a month. Replace batteries at least twice per year. (You can do this when daylight savings time switches, along with changing the batteries in your smoke detectors.)

Always make sure all family members know what to do, should the carbon monoxide detectors sound. Exit the home quickly and call 911. Do not go back into your home until the source of the carbon monoxide has been located and the leak has been fixed.

Carbon monoxide is a legitimate threat. Consequently, it can sicken or even kill. However, take precautions! Maintain your home appliances and install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors. In doing this, you can help to keep your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.