Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas and is toxic to both pets and humans. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. Low levels of Carbon Monoxide will cause symptoms that mimic the flu. Usually you will experience headaches, confusion, dizziness, nausea and fatigue. . According to the Center for Disease Control carbon monoxide is the most common cause of poisoning death in the United States. Unintentional CO exposure accounts for an estimated 15,000 emergency department visits and 500 unintentional deaths in the United States each year.
Sources of Carbon Monoxide
- Unvented kerosene and gas space heaters
- Chimney flues and Fireplaces
- Defective furnaces
- Oil or Kerosene heaters
- back-drafting from furnaces
- gas water heaters
- Wood stoves
- gas stoves; generators and other gasoline powered equipment;
- automobile exhaust from attached garages
What to do if you suspect you have carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Get Fresh Air (open the windows or doors or go outside immediately)
- Go to the hospital and tell them that you may have carbon monoxide poisoning
Do not try to stay in your home for a long amount of time without getting fresh air first. At higher levels carbon monoxide can lead to a loss of consciousness, reduce brain function or you map lapse into a coma and even death.
How to prevent carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Install a battery-operated Carbon Monoxide detector and make sure you change your batteries at least twice a year. You should also change your smoke detector batteries. Usually the best time to do this is when you change your clocks for daylight savings time.
- Make sure you maintain a detector on each level of your house.
- Have your furnace and gas appliances checked at least once a year. Follow your furnace guidelines and replace the filter at least every 3 months. Check your vents and ducts for signs of defects.
- If you regularly use your fireplace have it cleaned out annually and when you use you use your fireplace make sure that you keep the flue open.
- Don’t leave your car running inside a garage, but If you do make sure that you have the door raised so the exhaust fumes will be vented outside.
- Don’t use a charcoal grill or a fire pit indoors.
Remember carbon monoxide poisoning resembles the flu if more than one person is exhibiting the same symptoms get to fresh air. Also if you have a pet and they are exhibiting the same symptoms and seem lethargic that is also an indicator that you may have carbon monoxide poisoning because pets can’t get the flu virus.
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