The recent news of families in our region being affected by Carbon Monoxide is heartbreaking.

When he heard the news, one of our employees suggested that we help raise awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and the importance of having a detector. We couldn’t agree more.

The fact is, each year local and national news outlets report on more deaths caused by “the silent and invisible killer.” An odorless, colorless and tasteless gas, carbon monoxide is one of the most prevalent causes of death due to poisoning in America.

What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” If you breathe in a lot of CO it can make you pass out or kill you. People who are sleeping or drunk can die from CO poisoning before they have symptoms.

Who is at risk from CO poisoning?

Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning. Infants, the elderly, people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or breathing problems are more likely to get sick from CO. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized.

You can keep your family safe. Buy and maintain a detector. We all know the importance of having a smoke alarm; a CO detector is of equal importance.

You can purchase a detector at any home store, like Lowe’s or Home Depot, and you can also purchase one online from sites like Amazon. Several types of detectors are offered from battery powered, plug in, even detectors that link with your smart phone. Also, many smoke detectors now come with carbon monoxide detection. If you have questions about your carbon monoxide detector, please, give us a call. We can help.

Another important way to stay safe is to have your appliances serviced by a certified technician. This includes your chimney, too. Anything electric does not produce CO under any circumstance. So you don’t have to worry about an electric heater, microwave, stove, etc.

But all along the Tri-Cities and Virginia, people use gas or oil furnaces and wood burning stoves. Anytime a fossil fuel is burned, carbon monoxide fumes are released. So, if you burn fuel in small engines, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges or furnaces, you are at risk of being exposed to toxic levels of carbon monoxide. Since it is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas, there’s no way to know it’s there, until it may be too late.

Having and maintaining a CO detector, and having your appliances serviced regularly will help keep your family safe against “the silent and invisible killer.”

Here’s the full list of preventative measures you can take:

  • How can I prevent CO poisoning in my home?
    Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. Place your detector where it will wake you up if it alarms, such as outside your bedroom. Consider buying a detector with a digital readout. This detector can tell you the highest level of CO concentration in your home in addition to alarming. Replace your CO detector every five years.
  • Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors.
  • If you smell an odor from your gas refrigerator have an expert service it. An odor from your gas refrigerator can mean it could be leaking CO.
  • When you buy gas equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency, such as Underwriters’ Laboratories.
  • Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly. Horizontal vent pipes for appliances, such as a water heater, should go up slightly as they go toward outdoors, as shown below. This prevents CO from leaking if the joints or pipes aren’t fitted tightly.
  • Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys can be blocked by debris. This can cause CO to build up inside your home or cabin.
  • Never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum, or something else. This kind of patch can make CO build up in your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Never use a gas range or oven for heating. Using a gas range or oven for heating can cause a buildup of CO inside your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal – red, gray, black, or white – gives off CO.
  • Never use a portable gas camp stove indoors. Using a gas camp stove indoors can cause CO to build up inside your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Never use a generator inside your home, basement, or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent.
  • When using a generator, use a battery-powered or battery backup CO detector in your home.

If you have any question about your appliances, call us for a free consultation. 1800 Starnes.