Winter weather pushes us indoors where it’s warm, dry and “safe.” But even when indoors you need to be aware of possible health hazards, specifically carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless, colorless and tasteless gas. It is generated by any fuel-burning device, such as your stove, furnace or water heater. When you breathe in carbon monoxide it replaces the oxygen in your bloodstream. Your heart, brain and body quickly become starved of oxygen.
Symptoms vary from person to person, but the most common symptoms include, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, chest pain (may occur suddenly in people with angina), confusion, convulsions, drowsiness and dizziness.
Learn how to help protect your home and family from an emergency with simple carbon monoxide winter safety tips.
- If you think there is a carbon monoxide leak in your home, vacate the premises immediately! Once deemed safe, open all windows to maximize airflow and get clean air back into the space.
- Install and test carbon monoxide alarms – Carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than air so it rises. Detectors should be at least five feet off the ground.
- Never use generators indoors – In the event of a power outage, place the generator at a safe distance from the home, at least 10-15 feet.
- Inspect your fuel-burning devices – Furnaces and other fuel-burning appliances can produce carbon monoxide if they are not working properly or maintained. Make sure to have your devices inspected regularly by professionals.
- Clean out your fireplace’s flue – Make sure to clean out or have your fireplace’s flue inspected before you light a fire. This will help prevent the flue from becoming clogged and prevent carbon monoxide from being trapped in your home.
- Use kitchen vents anytime the stove is in use – This is especially important when a gas oven or stove is on for long periods – like the holidays.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen to anyone, but taking preventive measures can be all you need to keep yourself and your family safe. Stay safe out there!