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Keeping your home and family safe against the dangers of carbon monoxide is important all year round, but in the winter months when the use of carbon-monoxide-producing appliances increases it’s more important than ever to ensure you’re protecting your loved ones from the potential dangers this gas can bring.
Carbon monoxide is a gas that is produced by the incomplete burning of fuels. This gas can be released by many items in and around your home that run on gas or other fuels like kerosene or wood burning. This includes hot water heaters, furnaces, stoves and other appliances, fireplaces, cars and heaters.
It is absolutely necessary to have good quality, functioning carbon monoxide detectors in your home. It’s not just good practice, it’s the law! You need to have a detector on every level of your home and in the vicinity of any sleeping areas. Carbon monoxide is often called the silent killer. Unlike a fire, it cannot be seen, heard, tasted or smelled. A CO detector is required to alert you of this dangerous gas in your home. They come in a variety of brands and styles, including duel fire/CO detectors. Whatever type you select, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation, maintenance and testing. It is advised that you test your alarms at least once a month and be sure that they are operational with working batteries. Don’t wait for your batteries to die before replacing them – keep a schedule for replacing your batteries to ensure your detector is always powered.
In addition to working carbon monoxide detectors, there are many ways you can reduce the chances of a carbon monoxide leak in your home:
Even with a working carbon monoxide detector, it is important to know the signs of CO poisoning so you can get to safety and get help quickly.
Early signs of low-level carbon monoxide poisoning include tiredness, headaches, shortness of breath, muscle weakness or even difficulty using your arms or legs. At higher levels or prolonged exposure, you might experience difficulty thinking, impaired vision, chest pain or dizziness. High levels of carbon monoxide poisoning can cause coma, convulsions and death. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious risk and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Those most at risk are children, elderly people, pregnant women and anyone who suffers from existing lung or heart problems.
Follow these life-saving tips to protect yourself and your family against the dangers of carbon monoxide leaks in your home. If you believe there is a leak in your home, or your CO detector sounds an alert, leave your home immediately and call emergency personnel for help. Do not reenter your home until it has been cleared by the proper authorities.