Carbon Monoxide – Is Your Family Safe?

Owners of fuel-burning apparatus could be letting a silent killer into their homes, but with proper education, maintenance and equipment usage the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning can be virtually eliminated.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas produced by any machinery that burns gas, oil, kerosene, charcoal or wood, like oil and gas furnaces; gas dryers, water heaters, ranges and ovens; gas and kerosene space heaters; fireplaces; and wood stoves. You can’t see it, hear it or smell it, but in concentrated doses carbon monoxide can kill within minutes.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning start with a shortness of breath, mild nausea and mild headaches, and increased exposure can bring confusion and dizziness, more severe headaches and nausea, and fainting spells. Because these symptoms can also be from any number of sicknesses including food poisoning or the flu, the main way to tell if it is carbon monoxide poisoning — aside from having a carbon monoxide detector sounding its alarm — is to observe other occupants. If they share the symptoms, it is likely there is a carbon monoxide problem.

If others are feeling the same way, or if you are alone and simply unsure, immediately open doors and windows to let in fresh air. Turn off any combustion apparatus and leave the area. Call the local fire department. They would definitely rather you err on the side of safety, visiting your home to find no carbon monoxide problem rather than for you to wait to call and then arriving later to find a more serious situation.

At the start of every heating season, have a professional inspect all fuel-burning equipment in the home. Check all vents and flues to make sure connections are intact, tight and obstruction-free. Install a carbon monoxide detector if you don’t already have one, but do your homework first. Carbon monoxide detectors are not infallible, so look for a laboratory-tested device. Don’t let that CO detector lull you into a false sense of security, though — always stay alert for symptoms of poisoning when any combustion device is running.

For professional and expert safety information, call Family Danz at .