Carbon monoxide is a dangerous, colorless, odorless gas. It is a toxic and deadly killer. Each year around 400-500 people are killed in the U.S. from carbon monoxide poisoning, and another 15,000 are sent to emergency rooms. It can kill you without you ever even being aware of its presence. Carbon monoxide can be created from the burning of any carbon based compound, such as natural gas, propane, wood, plastic, etc.

How to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

1. Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil or coal burning appliances checked or serviced by a qualified technician each year.

2. Install carbon monoxide detectors on every floor, especially around the bedrooms and utility area. Carbon monoxide detectors are as important as smoke detectors, yet many people overlook them. The best detectors are those that plug into an electrical outlet but also have a battery backup.

What NOT to do:

1. Never use generators, grills, camp stoves, or any other devices that burn gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal inside the home. You should even keep them away from open windows.

2. Never have a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer or gasoline-powered engine in use outside of an open window or door where the exhaust could vent into an enclosed area.

3. Never use any of the above items inside a basement, garage, shed, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open.

Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Sleepiness

The ill effects can come on quickly like the flu, and are often mistaken for it. If your carbon monoxide alarm sounds or you have other reasons to suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, get everyone out of the house immediately and call 911 from a neighbor’s house. Do not return to the house until it is checked over by authorities and deemed to be safe.

Carbon monoxide systems & detectors
Consider adding carbon monoxide detectors to your house as well. Carbon monoxide is a silent but deadly killer. These can be purchased at most local home or hardware stores. While these do not serve the same purpose as smoke alarms for fires, they are most effective for furnace combustion or leak problems and can save the lives of the entire family in the event of a malfunctioning furnace. Approximately 500 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning each year, so it’s well worth the investment. Furthermore, installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home shows your insurance company you are serious about safety, and it might earn you a discount of about 3%.