Home Insurance, Lifestyle

Out of sight, out of mind? Not for carbon monoxide

Checking carbon monoxide detectors

Known as a “silent killer” or “invisible killer,” carbon monoxide (CO) is found in fumes produced by natural gas, gasoline, coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane-powered equipment, appliances and vehicles. Typical household items or appliances like gas ranges, generators, grills, fireplaces, water heaters and furnaces can produce this deadly gas. When CO builds in enclosed spaces, it can cause difficulty breathing and CO poisoning. Even if the room is ventilated, there is still a risk of CO exposure.

What are some symptoms of CO exposure?

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Mental confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death

How do you protect yourself and your loved ones from CO poisoning?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Safety Council offer these tips:

  • Install CO detectors in your home. Be sure to change the batteries in the detectors twice a year (spring and fall) and replace the unit every five years.
  • Buy a CO detector with a digital display so you can monitor the level of CO in your home.
  • Place the detector where you will hear the alarm notification.
  • Hire a qualified technician to service or perform maintenance on your natural gas, oil or coal-powered appliances or heating system every year.
  • Have your chimney cleaned every year.
  • Vent gas appliances to the outdoors.
  • Never use a gas range or oven to heat your home.
  • Schedule an appointment with a mechanic to have them review your vehicle’s exhaust system. A leak in an exhaust pipe can cause CO to build up in the vehicle’s interior.
  • Also, never run a vehicle inside an attached garage (even with the garage door open). CO can build up in the garage and cause issues for occupants in the vehicle or home. For detached garages, open the garage door to allow fresh air to enter when running the car.

What should you do when a CO alarm sounds?

  • Go outside.
  • Contact emergency services.
  • Don’t go back inside until the first responders have said it’s safe to do so.