We’ve all heard tragic stories about carbon monoxide poisoning. Colorless, tasteless and odorless, it can have devastating consequences long before we realize there’s an issue. It’s the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates it claims 500 lives and causes 15,000 emergency department visits per year.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a by-product of heaters, automobiles and appliances that burn propane, kerosene, wood, wood products, gas or oil. When these items are misused, improperly installed or not maintained, it can cause carbon monoxide to build up to dangerous or even deadly levels.
The risk intensifies during emergencies, such as power outages or severe winter storms, when alternative sources of power are used for heating or cooking.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning can feel a lot like the flu, which is why it often goes undetected in the home. Symptoms include headache, weakness, nausea, vomiting or dizziness. Confusion, blurred vision and loss of consciousness can also occur.
How to Stay Safe from Carbon Monoxide
Fortunately carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable, and there are several precautions you can take to stay safe in your home.
Install carbon monoxide detectors
If used properly and meet UL standard 2034, carbon monoxide detectors are one of the best ways to provide an early warning of the gas. Put one on every level of your home and be sure it is battery operated or has a battery backup. It can be helpful to change the batteries during Daylight Savings Time in the Spring and Fall. If your carbon monoxide detector goes off, evacuate your home immediately and seek emergency care if you are experiencing any symptoms.
Stay up-to-date on your home inspections
This includes the annual cleaning and inspection of your home heating system, furnace, water heater, woodstove, chimney and flue. Don’t forget about appliances, including gas ovens, ranges and cooktops.
Avoid operating gas-powered engines in confined spaces
Don’t leave your car, mower, motorcycle or any other vehicle running in the garage — even if the garage door is open or it’s a detached garage. Items including generators, charcoal grills, camp stoves or anything that burns charcoal or gas should be used outside and placed at least 20 feet away from a window, door or vent. Never use them inside your home, garage or basement.
Read the manuals
Always follow manufacturer recommendations for operating, maintaining and inspecting fuel-powered equipment. Staying vigilant about this can reduce your risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.
SFM Insurance wants you to be safe in your home, which is why we offer comprehensive homeowners insurance policies that meet your needs. As an independent insurance carrier, we can tap into 16 well-known providers to help you find the coverage you need at the price you want. If you have any questions or would like to set up a free consultation, please visit our website or call us at 937-382-2546. For more tips and our latest updates, visit us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn!