Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that’s produced any time a fossil fuel burns. Appliances such as ovens, heaters, and other devices release a small amount of carbon monoxide when they’re properly working.
But when these appliances aren’t working correctly, carbon monoxide fumes can build up and become life-threatening. More than 150 people in the U.S. die every year from accidental non-fire related carbon monoxide poisoning that’s associated with consumer products like generators.
The good news is that you can protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning by doing a few simple things. Here’s what you need to know about carbon monoxide poisoning and how you can keep your family safe.
Where is carbon monoxide found?
Carbon monoxide is produced when fossil fuels are burned. This includes when cars or trucks burn fuel or when furnaces, small engines, grills, fireplaces, stoves, lanterns, and gas ranges are turned on.
That said, while there may be more air pollution in urban areas where 16% of first-time homeowners are looking for new homes, it’s important to remember that anyone anywhere can become a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Appliances can leak carbon monoxide when their fuel doesn’t fully burn. Household appliances that are serviced regularly and used safely should produce quantities of carbon monoxide gas that are small an insignificant. But appliances that are old or serviced infrequently may be at higher risk of leaking carbon monoxide.
Defective appliances can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning, and you may be able to file for personal injury if your family has been effected. However, keep in mind that statute of limitations for personal injury claims varies by state. Oftentimes, the statute is two years, as is the case in Alabama.
What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide dizziness, headache, weakness, upset stomach, chest paint, confusion, and vomiting. Those who’ve experienced carbon monoxide poisoning describe the symptoms as flu-like.
Other symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include loss of balance, vision problems, memory problems, and loss of consciousness. People who are pregnant, have heart-related problems, or breathing problems are affected more quickly by carbon monoxide poisoning. Small children and infants are also more susceptible.
How can my family avoid the danger of carbon monoxide?
Fortunately, there are a few ways you can take control to prevent carbon monoxide buildup in your home. When you’re looking for new appliances that burn fuel, check for a testing agency’s seal such as UL, a global independent safety science company. When these appliances are installed in your home, they should be installed with vents that run outdoors.
Other ways you can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home include:
- Installing carbon monoxide detectors. Up to 58% of homeowners say they plan to spend money to improve their homes this year. One of the best ways you can improve your home while keeping your family safe is to install carbon monoxide detectors in your house if you don’t have some already.
- Having your appliances regularly serviced. Maintenance is key not only to make sure your appliances are running properly for as long as possible but also to prevent them from leaking carbon monoxide.
- Only use grills outdoors. Never attempt to use a charcoal grill or portable camp stove indoors.
- Use your emergency generator correctly. Never store your emergency generator in your basement or garage. They should be located outside, 20 feet away from doors and windows.
The threat of carbon monoxide poisoning can be scary, especially during the colder months when we’re using our furnaces more frequently. But by following the tips above and knowing the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, you can reduce your family’s risk of getting sick.