I wanted to warn everyone of the importance of Carbon Monoxide Detectors. Back in 2002, my husband and I were living in our first apartment. These apartments are super old, probably way older than me, and I’m pretty sure they had no updates in that time either. It was a tiny one bedroom apartment with the furnace in the bedroom.
My mom bought an alarm for our tiny apartment. I thought she was over reacting. However, she did pay for it and to humor her, we installed it. It was a cold January night and my husband and I had been kinda napping all evening, just tired more than usual. It was around 11 at night and the alarm went off! Both of us went into a panic as we had been napping all night and awoke to this. Immediately we called the fire department and they told us to wait outside. When they got there they used their little detectors and sure enough we had dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in our apartment. Without that alarm the fire department said we very well could have never awoke again. The levels would’ve continued to rise and we would not have gone anywhere that night. If we did wake up we would’ve had flu symptoms and thought we were sick and stayed inside!
Since that day I make sure everyone we know has a carbon monoxide detector. The best thing is now they are more common and the prices have come down. We got one for less than $20!! Now you can’t tell me you can’t find an extra $20 when it could save your family’s life!
Initial symptoms are similar to the flu with no fever. Dizziness, fatigue/weakness, throbbing headache, nausea/vomiting, irregular breathing, sleepiness and confusion can all be possible symptoms.
- Install CO alarms inside your home to provide early warning of accumulating CO.
- CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each separate sleeping area just like fire alarms.
- Test CO alarms at least once a month, and replace CO alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle, generator, or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open to the exterior. Never leave your vehicle running when it is parked or covered in snow.
- Have fuel-burning household heating equipment (fireplaces, furnaces, water heaters, wood and coal stoves, space or portable heaters) and chimneys inspected by a professional every year before cold weather sets in.
- When using a fireplace, open the flue for adequate ventilation.
- Open a window slightly whenever using a kerosene or gas heater. Only refuel outside, after the device has cooled.
- Never use a gas oven to heat your home.
- Only use barbecue grills – which can produce CO – outside. Never use them in the home or garage.
- When purchasing new heating and cooking equipment, select products tested and labeled by an independent testing laboratory.
- When purchasing an existing home, have a qualified technician evaluate the integrity of the heating and cooking systems, as well as the sealed spaces between the garage and house.
- When camping, remember to use battery-powered heaters and flashlights in tents trailers, and motor homes.
- CO alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home and in or outside all sleeping areas.
- Know the difference between the sound of the smoke alarms and the sound of the CO alarms.
- If your CO alarm sounds move everyone outdoors immediately and call 911.
Carbon monoxide can be produced when burning any fuel: gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, wood and coal. It is the product of incomplete combustion. Carbon monoxide can kill in minutes or hours depending on the level of CO in the air.
If CO is inhaled at damaging levels it can lead to breathing difficulties, impaired judgment and memory, damage to the nervous system, cardiac trauma, brain damage, coma and even death.
CO poisoning affects everyone but experts agree that unborn babies, young children, pregnant women, senior citizens and people with heart or respiratory problems are especially vulnerable and are at the highest risk for death or serious injury.
With Winter quickly approaching some of us have already turned on our heaters and many will be doing so soon. Protect the ones you love!