Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless and invisible gas. You never know it’s there unless you start to see the symptoms, and those symptoms can eventually turn deadly. In fact, more than 4,000 people spend time in the hospital every year for excessive exposure. Around 20,000 people end up calling an ambulance and taking a trip to the emergency room for treatment.
In a lot of these cases, the individuals in question had no idea that there was any risk to them at all. They may have only started to suspect something was wrong when they felt confused or tired. Maybe a friend called them and noticed they weren’t making sense or having trouble putting their words together. But if you can’t see this gas, and you can’t smell or taste it, how do you protect yourself and prevent a catastrophic event?
Avoid risks when possible
Certain devices create excessive amounts of CO, such as vehicles, gas ranges, grills and furnaces. Some of these you’ll have to use in your home, but many of them can be avoided. For instance, there are those who have decided to use a grill in the house when it’s too cold outside to cook, not realizing that the carbon monoxide has no way to dissipate and so it is filling the house. Always be very careful when you’re using any sort of device that creates CO as a byproduct.
Make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors
Just like smoke detectors, you can purchase carbon monoxide detectors. These will alert you if there’s a dangerous buildup of the gas, even though you may not have noticed it at all. It’s important to put these in areas of your homes that don’t generally get good ventilation, and you do want to have one on every level. Ideally, there should be a detector outside of every bedroom. In some cases, you can find smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors built into the same device, but you may need to install two devices near each other.
Understand what symptoms you should look for
Because the symptoms are usually what clues you in to the fact that carbon monoxide poisoning is a danger, you need to know what the symptoms are. They could include the following:
- Mental confusion
- Loss of coordination
- Shortness of breath
In some ways, you may feel similar to someone who has ingested too much alcohol. But the real problem is simply that you’re not getting the amount of oxygen that you need, and you are breathing in excessive carbon monoxide instead.
Know the risk with a car in a garage
One of the main risks with carbon monoxide poisoning is when you have a car running in the garage. If it gets cold and you want to run the vehicle to make sure it’s warm when you get in, you should move the vehicle outside of the garage entirely. You at least need to open the garage door to allow the gas to vent. People will sometimes start their car while they’re still in an enclosed space, and a car can very quickly fill that space with a deadly amount of carbon monoxide.
Watch out for blocked vents
In some cases, people believe that they are venting a space properly, but the vents have actually become blocked. This can happen if a car is running in a snowstorm, for example, and the exhaust pipe gets covered. This pushes the fumes back into the vehicle. But the same thing could happen to the vents on your house, which may either vent through your roof or through your wall. For instance, many gas dryers have a vent that pushes out through the wall of the house, while the furnace probably has a roof vent. If you have carbon monoxide detectors and they begin to go off, this is one place where you can look.
The dangers at home
There are generally a lot more dangers at home than people understand, and there are major risks that they don’t think about on a daily basis. These types of risks always exist and they are something that always has to be accounted for. That’s why it’s so important to have the proper home insurance when you purchase a property. You need to know that you and your family are covered if anything unexpected happens.
Be sure you carefully consider all of the options at your disposal. Give us a call at 214-705-3482 to learn more.