Every year, over 20,000 people feel the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and around 400 people in the United States die from it- often while in their own homes. Carbon monoxide, or “CO”, is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced when fuel is burned in cars, small engines, fireplaces, grills, lanterns, gas ranges, water heaters or furnaces. Power equipment like small generators, lawn mowers and power washers can also produce CO.
When our furnaces or gas ranges in our homes malfunction, they can start to overproduce carbon monoxide. This is just one of the reasons why it’s important to get an annual furnace check and to make sure your appliances are installed and working correctly by reading through the instruction manual. It’s always best to have your appliances installed by a professional.
Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning affects those of all ages, although people with chronic health conditions like heart disease or anemia, the elderly and infants are more likely to get sick. Some of the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- Shortness of breath
- Blurred vision
More extreme levels of carbon monoxide poisoning lead to confusion, vomiting, loss of muscle coordination, loss of consciousness, and in some cases, death.
It’s important to note that carbon monoxide poisoning can easily be confused with an illness like the flu. Recognizing the signs of CO poisoning is crucial so you can seek medical attention as soon as possible.
The Importance of a Carbon Monoxide Detector
While it’s wonderful that these days our homes are well-insulated and tightly sealed, this also means that carbon monoxide can build up quickly in just a short amount of time. Having a working carbon monoxide detector on all levels of your home can help decrease the risk of CO poisoning for everyone living there. Place them near fuel-burning appliances in a place where you can hear them, even when you are sleeping.
Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to be set off before potentially life-threatening levels of CO are reached in your home, so you will be able to get out into fresh air in plenty of time. The latest models have improved safety standards and are less faulty than earlier models. Just remember, like any other electronic device, your CO detector will have a recommended replacement age.
You should never ignore your carbon monoxide detector when it begins to alarm. You might feel fine, but the CO detector is alerting you that there could be a potentially deadly hazard in your home. Get outside into fresh air immediately and call emergency services. Stay out of your home until the CO levels have been checked and you’re told it’s safe to return.
Have questions about carbon monoxide detectors? If you’re in the Cleveland area, give us a call at 216-663-6462.