It’s the middle of winter, and if you haven’t installed your carbon monoxide detector in your home yet, you need to make that a priority! Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a threat in the winter in particular because of the gas burning appliances we commonly use to keep ourselves warm.

The Silent Killer

The reason carbon monoxide is so dangerous is because it is both colorless and odorless. You won’t smell anything when you inhale it, and you won’t see a difference in the air. The gas can build up unnoticed in a room or poorly ventilated area to a lethal level.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include

  • dizziness
  • headache
  • upset stomach
  • vomiting
  • chest pain
  • confusion

These symptoms are often confused as flu symptoms, so the carbon monoxide poisoning goes ignored, which makes it even more dangerous.

Anyone who breathes air is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. However, infants, people with breathing problems, the elderly, people with chronic heart disease, and people with anemia are at an increased risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. The Center for Disease Control estimates that around 400 Americans die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning, 20,000 visit the emergency room, and 4,000 are hospitalized.

What releases carbon monoxide?

Remember that many household appliances release carbon monoxide as a natural part of their process. Carbon monoxide is produced any time something burns, so fuel-burning machines are all culprits. Common sources of carbon monoxide include

  • furnaces or boilers
  • gas stoves
  • gas ovens
  • cars
  • fireplaces
  • wood stoves
  • gas power generators
  • motor vehicles
  • power tools
  • lawn equipment

Be mindful whenever you are running any equipment, vehicles, or appliances, and make sure that the area is well ventilated and monitored by a carbon monoxide detector.

Preventing CO Poisoning

There are many things you can do to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Install a battery-operated CO detector in your home. Check and/or replace the battery as soon as it notifies you that it’s low.
  • Service your coal burning appliances by a professional technician every year to make sure that everything is running as it should.
  • Don’t leave your car running in a closed garage.
  • Have your chimney swept every year. Sometimes, buildup in the chimney can lead to CO being trapped inside your home.
  • Do not burn charcoal inside your home.
  • Do not use portable gas stoves inside the home.
  • If you are using a power generator inside your home, make sure that it is within 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent.

Stay safe this winter. If you don’t have one already, get a monitored CO detector today by calling Protect America at 1-888-951-5136.