How Does CO Get Into Your Home?

Being proactive instead of reactive can save your life and the lives of everyone in your home.  Understanding the dangers associated with carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is extremely important for everyone, as prevention is the key to avoiding this potentially tragic, albeit preventable, fate.  Nearly one thousand people die accidentally from non-fire related CO poisoning each year in America.  A large percentage of the accidental deaths are directly linked to fuel-burning appliances that are faulty, improperly used, or incorrectly vented.  Our staff of CSIA-certified chimney sweeps can help you provide your family with the protection it deserves from these dangers!

Regular inspections by a certified sweep helps identify any potential problems with draft. Ventilation of harmful gases is critical.

Regular inspections by a certified sweep helps identify any potential problems with draft. Ventilation of harmful gases is critical.

You cannot see, taste, or smell CO; this is the reason it has earned the moniker “the silent killer.”  At high enough levels, CO can kill a person in minutes.  You’re probably wondering where it comes from exactly.  It is created anytime a fuel is burned.  CO poisoning can often be linked directly to faulty heating appliances in your home.  When fuel-burning appliances are maintained and used properly, the amount of CO produced doesn’t typically reach hazardous levels.  However, if these same appliances are not properly maintained or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of CO can be produced.  As a precautionary measure, having your heating equipment cleaned and inspected by a professional annually is a must.

Symptoms of CO Poisoning 

Learning the symptoms of CO poisoning and the steps you can take to minimize your risk of exposure is also crucial to keeping you and your loved ones safe.  At moderate CO levels, you and your family can get severe headaches, become dizzy or disoriented, mentally confused, nauseated, or faint.  It’s possible to die if these levels persist for an extended period of time.  Low levels of CO can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea and headaches, and may have longer-term effects on overall health.  Because many of these symptoms are similar to those of more common ailments like the flu and food poisoning, many don’t even think of CO poisoning.  This is the first mistake.  If these symptoms only appear when you’re in the house and then get better when you leave home, CO poisoning could very likely be the culprit.  Getting fresh air as soon as any of these symptoms surface is key.

The Detector Must Have Working Batteries

Another key precautionary measure is installing at least one battery-powered CO alarm or AC-powered unit with a battery backup on each level of your home and near sleeping quarters; plan to check the batteries regularly to ensure your home is still being monitored.  Upgrading each of these units every 5-7 years is also strongly recommended, as it will help to ensure that you have the most up-to-date technology monitoring the conditions within your home.  You can never be too careful when it comes to life-or-death issues!

As a quick refresher, make sure to have your fuel-burning appliances inspected by a trained and licensed professional at the beginning of every heating season.  Also ensure that the flues and chimneys are connected, in good working condition, and not blocked.  If you notice symptoms of CO poisoning, leave your home immediately to get fresh air; seek medical attention thereafter.  Lastly, install CO alarms in your home.  Remember, CO cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled; your only defen