Carbon monoxide (CO) causes many accidental deaths in the US a year and the number of deaths is estimated at around 1500. On top of that, it is estimated another 10,000 people will seek medical treatment through exposure. Those facts alone should make you understand why it is important to have CO detectors both in your home and at your place of employment.
Where Does Carbon Monoxide Come From?
Carbon monoxide is a gas that is emitted by any burning of fuel and is caused by many different factors in every day, commonplace situations. Think about warming up your car in the garage on a cold winter’s day. This can create carbon monoxide for you or your family. Any fuel-burning appliance like a gas dryer or water heater can create carbon monoxide. Having a poorly built chimney can also cause carbon monoxide to enter your home and of course a faulty furnace is a leading cause. Think about these situations and then think about where you work as well. These sorts of factors can come into play so you could be more in danger than you may even know.
When carbon monoxide enters your body, it replaces the oxygen molecules in your bloodstream and deprives your body of the oxygen that it needs. Many people will not realize they are having problems because it often can have flu-like symptoms. If you are having problems with flu-like symptoms and this seems to be a chronic problem, you may want to ask your doctor.
- Fatigue or confusion
- Severe headache
- Fast heart rate
Here are a few simple but still important actions you can take to help eliminate the threat in your home:
- Always have a licensed professional install any furnace or fueled appliance
- Have your HVAC maintained regularly by a licensed professional
- Have chimneys cleaned regularly – a blocked chimney flu can be deadly
- Have furnace/heating vents cleaned regularly – these are a direct path into every room
- Never run a gas powered generator or your vehicle in an attached garage
- EQUIP YOUR HOME WITH CARBON MONOXIDE ALARMS
The balance of this article will about your carbon monoxide detectors and how you should test them when having them at home and at work. It is really easy to buy carbon monoxide detectors as they are often available at any home improvement store such as Lowe’s or Home Depot. You should have one carbon monoxide detector on each floor and this should be placed about 5 feet above the floor. Carbon monoxide does not rise at the same level that smoke does, thus the basis for putting it 5 feet above the floor. As with any other smoke detector, you should check on the batteries regularly and replace them at regular intervals such as every six months as well.
If you hear your detector go off in your house you will want to open up windows as quickly as possible so that you can get fresh air into the house. If you find that your detector is going off on a regular basis, you may want a professional to go to your house and see if CO is being built up through one of your fuel-burning devices or because you warm up your car in the garage every morning.
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