Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas, which is totally odorless, tasteless, and colorless. Many of us have probably heard the horror stories of exposure, but you probably think that something like this could never happen to you and your family. Unfortunately, it is this type of thinking that leads to carbon monoxide exposure disasters. Homeowners that aren’t on the lookout for the signs or that haven’t taken the necessary precautions to prevent an accident are the most vulnerable to this type of problem in their home. You first must know how to recognize the signs and second, you must have defenses in place to protect your home and your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide.
Symptoms of CO Exposure
- flu-like symptoms
- chest tightness
Depending upon a person’s overall health, age, and the length and concentration of CO exposure, the effects can vary markedly from one person to another.
Where Does CO Come From?
CO gas is formed from incomplete combustion of fuels, such as gasoline, natural gas, coal, and propane. Incomplete combustion occurs when not enough oxygen is available for clean burning of the fuel. Age of an appliance, improper adjustment, worn components, or vent blockages can all contribute to CO in the home. Furnaces, water heaters, stoves, gas dryers, or fireplaces can all be suspect as CO producers, and should be inspected regularly for proper, clean combustion.
The best defense against carbon monoxide is a CO detector
CO detectors range from battery powered units to plug-in units to hard-wired units, with battery back-up. They can be equipped with an audible alarm or a visual indicator, which will sound or change color when carbon monoxide is detected in the home.
Steps you can take to ensure your family’s well-being:
- Service your fuel-burning appliances regularly, before there is a problem.
- Inspect your appliance vents, and vent terminations, for proper flow and free of obstructions. (birds can build nests inside an open termination)
- Make sure your mechanical rooms are supplied with the properly sized combustion air intakes.
- Equip your home with CO detectors, preferably professionally installed.
Following the above steps will help ensure your family’s continued good health, and that your home should never have a CO problem.