Original Article: https://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/homeownersadvice/item/1035154-is-a-silent-killer-lurking?rtmpage=
With a joyous, busy holiday season upon us, safety may slip to the background, but a silent killer does not. PJ Wade reminds us of the hazard that carbon monoxide poses now and all year round, and suggests protections.
“Warm and cozy” does not automatically mean a safe home.
The silent killer—carbon monoxide—sneaks up on us, often while we’re asleep.
Each year, this poisonous, odorless, tasteless, invisible gas kills more than 400 Americans, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Non-fire-related carbon monoxide (CO) is accidentally produced when fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil, wood, charcoal, gasoline, propane, and kerosene do not burn completely because they do not receive enough air while being consumed in fuel-burning furnaces, space heaters, generators, water heaters, clothes dryers, ovens, fireplaces, and other fuel-powered appliances.
• Damaged or blocked venting, inadequate airflow, and air intakes installed too close to exhaust valves can allow carbon monoxide to build up inside a house, apartment building, cottage, camper, or even a tent.
• CO production is at a maximum during the startup of a cold gasoline-powered engine. Idling your car or gas mower in the garage can allow dangerous levels of CO to enter the home through inadequately-sealed connecting walls or doorways.
• Homes that are too-tightly sealed can concentrate deadly CO.
Carbon monoxide can accumulate in the blood and reduce its ability to carry oxygen. At even low levels, this can result in serious health problems, including suffocation, brain damage, or death.
Early warning signs of poisoning may be confused with flu symptoms: fatigue, headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, confusion, compromised judgement, or extreme sleepiness.
If these symptoms appear or CO alarms sound, get outside immediately! Then call 911. Do not return to the home until it has been professionally tested, the CO problem identified, and the CO source removed. Never enter a home where CO alarms are sounding!
Quick response to CO is essential. Infants, small children, pregnant women, unborn fetuses, frail or unwell adults, people suffering from heart or respiratory problems, and pets may succumb to poisoning more quickly and exhibit symptoms sooner.
The best protection against CO poisoning is ensuring CO never enters your home:
1. Every year, have a qualified service technician inspect and clean your fuel-burning appliances and furnace. Cracks, corrosion, or blockage like birds’ nests in vent pipes, exhaust fans, and chimney flues may interrupt ventilation and cause carbon monoxide build-up.
2. Do not try to save money by do-it-yourself maintenance when you have not been trained to service fuel-burning appliances. For instance, professionals know how to read flame color on a natural gas furnace, water heater, or stove to be sure combustion does not produce CO. Check manuals to be sure which annual check ups and what regular maintenance is recommended by manufacturers of furnaces and other fuel-burning equipment.
3. Install at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home. Carefully follow manufacturer instructions and comply with local CO detector bylaws. If you have only one detector, install it in your bedroom. A second detector could be added near the furnace. Ideally, each level with a sleeping area should have a detector. Follow instructions for placement, installation, and maintenance.
4. Never use fuel-burning apparatus inside your home or garage—even if exterior doors are open. This warning includes natural gas-, propane-, or charcoal-fueled equipment like grills, generators, chain saws, camping gear, or other fuel-powered anything. Never run a gas stove or oven as a heating source even in an electrical black out.
5. Out-dated appliances and furnaces could be time-bombs.
6. To ensure unwanted CO gas cannot accumulate inside, provide proper ventilation for fuel-burning appliances, particularly in newer homes with higher standards of insulation and air exchange.
7. If you are a tenant, make sure your landlord does all of the above or call your local municipal office to find out what you can do to ensure your living space is safely CO free. (Many municipalities have CO detector installation bylaws.)
Carbon monoxide remains the primary cause of accidental poisoning deaths, so don’t let your guard down. CO danger exists in two forms:
1. CO Production—Faulty installation, poor maintenance, improper use, or equipment breakdown can produce the invisible gas.
2. CO Accumulation—Poor or incorrect ventilation can cause the gas to accumulate or to enter areas where people sleep or play.
What specific actions have you taken to be sure odorless, toxic CO cannot leak into your sleeping rooms and other spaces where you live, work, play, and breath?
You may have taken precautions in your home, but you and your family must be safe wherever you are: your garage, cottage, ski chalet, car, recreational vehicle, workplace, and when staying with friends or away on holiday.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC — https://cpsc.gov/), which is “committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard,” is currently undertaking a first-of-its-kind landmark survey of smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm usage in consumers’ homes across 23 States and in 46 US cities.
Survey teams will include a CPSC representative and one from each city’s local fire department. Free batteries and smoke and CO alarms will be provided to surveyed homes without alarms or with non-working alarms. Homeowners without smoke or CO alarms will be surveyed by phone; all participants receive gift cards as survey incentives. Survey results are expected to be published at the end of 2020.
Stay safe over the holidays. Remember, unattended cooking remains the #1 cause of home fires.
Best wishes for a Safe Holiday Season.
Have a Safe, Happy Holidays from us at The RVA Group Realty to Yours!
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