Carbon monoxide can be a silent killer. It has no odor, no taste, and no color. It can be filling every room of your house without you ever noticing that something is wrong — and the problem only gets worse in the winter months. In fact, January is the deadliest month for carbon monoxide poisoning.
This may seem very dramatic, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially during this time of year. You want to do everything you can to protect your loved ones. Here are some winter safety tips to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Know the Symptoms
One of the most sinister aspects of carbon monoxide poisoning is that people suffering from it may be completely unaware. The symptoms can seem like many other common ailments, causing these important red flags to be shrugged off.
While you don’t want to panic at every sign of malaise, if members of your household suddenly start complaining of headaches, dizziness, weakness, chest pain, confusion, and/or nausea and vomiting, pay attention. Elderly people and young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of carbon monoxide. Sadly, the CDC warns that those who are sleeping or have been drinking alcohol can die from carbon monoxide “before ever having symptoms.”
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Every year, approximately 50,000 people in the United States seek emergency medical treatment due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, and at least 430 die. Incredibly, one small, inexpensive device can help save lives, including those of your own family.
Installing a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector takes mere minutes, but the benefits can last a lifetime. Of course, you’ll also need to regularly check that it’s working properly. Make a habit of inspecting the device, and changing its batteries, every time you change the clocks for daylight savings time. Set a reminder on your phone or in your email service so you don’t forget this simple, yet possibly lifesaving, task.
Poisoning Prevention Tips
In addition to outfitting your home with a functioning carbon monoxide detector, there are some things you can do (and avoid doing) to ensure that your loved ones are protected from carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Keep ducts, registers, and flues free from debris as this can prevent proper ventilation.
- Never run your car inside the garage, even with the door open.
- Never heat your house with a gas oven.
- Generators, charcoal grills, camp stoves, lanterns, and similar items should never be used inside of your home, a tent, or a camper.
- Never run a generator, pressure washer, motor vehicle, or any gas-powered engine fewer than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent. This can cause dangerous exhaust to enter the home.
- Seek medical attention immediately if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.
Be sure to go over these prevention tips with your friends and family so that everyone understands the importance of these potentially life-saving practices. Repeat the conversation every time you change the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector to keep the information in the forefront of your loved ones’ minds.
One of the most important things you can do to prevent carbon monoxide poison is to have your heating and cooling system, water heater, and other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliances regularly inspected by a qualified technician. This is especially important during the cold winter months, when our heating systems may be working overtime.
Having a functioning carbon monoxide detector is very important — but it may not be enough. A simple venting issue, one that can be easily spotted by a trained expert, can have fatal consequences before you even realize anything’s wrong.
At W.G. Speeks, we take the prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning very seriously. Our team of NATE-certified technicians can inspect your HVAC system and help identify any potential problem areas. Most importantly, we can help you fix them, too.
Don’t gamble with your family’s lives. Take action before it’s too late. W.G. Speeks has been serving the Richmond, VA area for more than 75 years and we’re committed to helping you keep your family safe! Call today for a free consultation!