How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Buildup

Car in a cloud of smokeIf you use appliances or motors that run on fuel, you are at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide or CO is let off by any combustion process (burning material). This gas is very dangerous since you cannot see or smell it. Its molecules attach to red blood cells more quickly than oxygen, which means oxygen doesn’t get to your vital organs. In high concentrations, carbon monoxide can kill.

Carbon monoxide buildup happens when there is not enough oxygen in a combustion system to burn material efficiently. If the level of carbon monoxide inside your home matches that of the air outside, then it is safe. The federal standard for outdoor air is 9 parts per million (ppm).

The best protection against carbon monoxide poisoning is prevention. The guidelines to keeping your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning are pretty simple.

Maintain fuel-burning appliances. Ideally you should get all of your appliances checked by a professional yearly. They can spot hazards and potential problems so that you can stop a leak before it happens.

Have a CO alarm near every bedroom. One of the worst dangers is sleeping with high levels of carbon monoxide. Make sure you check the safety and reliability of it. A CO detector is helpful but cannot prevent problems. And sadly, they are not always reliable.

Don’t run or idle the car in a garage even with the garage door open. Always pull it outside. A deadly amount of gas can build up in only 10 minutes. In cold or snowy weather, check your muffler to make sure it isn’t plugged by ice or snow.

Use proper ventilation. Gas appliances should ventilate directly to the outside whenever possible. If there is no way around it, open a window and the doors to all the rest of the house. Keep an eye out for any CO poisoning symptoms. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. However, people who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms.

NEVER use your gas oven to heat your home. Even if you only do it for a short time, it is unsafe. You can get small space heaters instead for $15.

When watching for symptoms of poisoning, remember that elderly, children, fetuses, and persons doing intense physical activity are more susceptible to poisoning and should be kept away from CO sources. Pets may show the first symptoms of dangerous levels of CO.

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