According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year accidental carbon monoxide poisoning sickens more than 25,000 people in the U.S. and nearly 500 people die annually from exposure to the odorless and undetectable gas. In the desert, the cool months of December, January, and February are typically when most homeowners and their families are vulnerable as gas heaters are used to keep warm. However, a few simple tips can help prevent illness and death. Here’s what you need to know.
How can I ensure the air my family breathes doesn’t contain unsafe levels of carbon monoxide?
Installing and maintaining a carbon monoxide detector is the best defense to prevent illness and death from carbon monoxide. Since “CO” is odorless and colorless, a detector can help save your loved ones. CO is produced when fuel is burned to produce heat and a detector is the only way to monitor the gas levels in your home.
Is a CO detector expensive and can I install one by myself?
Installing and maintaining a carbon monoxide detector is not difficult, however finding the right location to install one is vital. A typical stand-alone detector will cost anywhere from $20 to $50.
What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
Headaches, dizziness and an upset stomach are key indicators that CO might be at unhealthy levels in your home. Unfortunately, people sleeping are unaware that they might be breathing the gas so it’s important that CO detectors are located near sleeping areas in your home and have alarms loud enough to wake you.
Who is at risk for carbon dioxide poisoning?
Everyone is at risk for high levels of CO, however, the most vulnerable are infants, elderly and those with chronic heart disease.
What else should I know about CO?
Like smoke detectors, make sure you replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector annually in your home. In desert areas, we always recommend homeowners do this in the spring when they service their HVAC systems before the summertime heat.
You should have your HVAC system, water heater and any other gas burning appliances checked by a qualified technician each year to ensure there are no leaks or unknown hazards looming.
Also, never use outdoor heating devices – barbecues, heaters and the like – inside your home. If you notice any odd smells radiating from your appliances, have them serviced immediately. Fireplaces and chimneys should also be cleaned and properly maintained annually.
Publication date: 4/9/2018