Autumn is almost here and that means it’s time to check your fireplaces to make sure they are safe for this winter. One of the biggest dangers of in-home fireplaces is the risk of carbon monoxide leaks. Be sure to have a professional check your fireplace for safety and learn more here about the dangers of carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is the number one cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. However, protecting yourself and your family from its dangers is easy, if you take a few precautions and follow some simple safety rules.
The following information about carbon monoxide comes from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
About Carbon Monoxide
You cannot see or smell carbon monoxide.
At high levels, carbon monoxide can be deadly.
CO is produced whenever a fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned. If the appliance producing the CO is maintained, it is generally harmless. However, if appliances are not maintained or not used correctly, the gas is hazardous.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
At moderate levels: severe headaches, dizziness, mental confusion, nausea or faintness.
At low levels: shortness of breath, mild nausea, mild headaches. These low level symptoms may have long-term effects on your health.
If You Think You May Have CO Poisoning
Get to fresh air immediately.
Go to an emergency room and tell the physician you suspect CO poisoning.
Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Have your fuel-burning appliances, including oil and gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas ranges and ovens, gas dryers, gas or kerosene space heaters, and wood stoves, inspected by a trained professional at the beginning of every heating season.
Make sure flues and chimneys are connected, in good condition and not blocked.
Choose appliances that vent to the outside when possible. Ensure they are installed correctly and maintained.
Read and follow all instructions that accompany fuel-burning devices. If you cannot avoid using an unvented gas or kerosene space heater, carefully follow the cautions that come with the device. Use proper fuel and keep doors to the rest of the house open and crack windows to ensure ventilation.
DO NOT idle your car in the garage, even if the garage door is open. Fumes can build up quickly in the garage and home.
DO NOT use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.
DO NOT ever use a charcoal grill indoors, even in the fireplace.
Purchasing Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Before purchasing a CO detector it is important to note that they are not a replacement for proper use and maintenance of your fuel-burning appliances. According to the EPA, they are still being developed and not considered as reliable as smoke detectors. Do not let your CO detector lull you into a false sense of security and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for its placement, use and maintenance. Do some research before buying a CO detector. Read more at Protect Yourself and Your Family with a CO Detector.