When winter rolls around, we start to talk more about furnaces and fireplaces. Both heat producers keep us toasty warm all season long. However, both can also produce dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that can harm your family.
What is Carbon Monoxide & Why is it Dangerous?
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas produced from burning fuel. It is also deadly. Carbon monoxide prevents your blood from carrying oxygen. When exposed to too much of the gas, you can slowly suffocate due to the lack of oxygen in your body.
How Does Carbon Monoxide Get into Your Home?
Carbon monoxide makes its way into your home through the burning of some sort of fuel. For instance, an oil-burning furnace, a wood-burning fireplace, a gas stove, a car engine, or an outdoor grill are all possible sources of the gas. The list of every appliance that produces carbon monoxide is long –, if you are burning some sort of fuel to run appliances, it is potentially a source of entry for the gas.
Does Every Home Need a Carbon Monoxide Detector?
We err on the side of caution and say, “yes.” Carbon monoxide detectors are inexpensive and readily available, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Plus, you can purchase fire detectors that have combined carbon monoxide detectors already built-in. If you are more high tech, you can find digital alarms that tell you exactly how much carbon monoxide is in the air at any given time. For those who have smart home systems, you can purchase detectors that connect with your smartphone, alerting you of any problems when you are away from home.
Where Should I Install My Carbon Monoxide Detector?
It depends on the type of device you have. For example, if you purchased a combined fire/carbon monoxide alarm, it should be installed high on the wall near bedroom doors. Some devices plug into readily available outlets or are hard-wired into your home’s electric system. Whichever type of alarm you purchase, it should come with instructions guiding you to the best place for installation.
We can tell you that it’s a bad idea to install a monitor too close to an appliance that runs on gas, because you may get false alarms. Areas that are too dusty, too humid, or have a lot of air movement (like directly in front of a vent) are also potential problems.
How Can I Tell if I Have Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
This gas produces flu-like symptoms from overexposure. That includes headaches, glassy eyes, nausea, tiredness, disorientation, and weakness. If you and your family start to experience these symptoms suddenly, it’s time to get out of the house.
What Should I Do If My Carbon Monoxide Alarm Goes Off?
Don’t ignore it. If you don’t have any symptoms, open your windows and doors, turn off any gas if you can, then call the fire department to check the situation. If you have symptoms, get everyone out of the house and call 911 from a mobile phone or your neighbor’s home. Carbon monoxide alarms are an emergency – paying attention to them can save the life of your family.