Protecting Your Family From Carbon Monoxide PoisoningJanuary 25th, 2013 | Posted by in Health | Safety
About 22 years ago, I attended a funeral I will never forget.
It was for a co-worker of my Dad’s. I didn’t know her, but the image of three caskets in a row is burned into my memory. The family had died of carbon monoxide poisoning right after Christmas. The father was found on the stairs, Christmas ornaments that he must have been carrying up to the attic broken all around him. The mother and daughter (just a few years younger than I) were found in their beds.
Now I am a mom myself and you can bet I have a carbon monoxide detector in my home.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. Carbon monoxide is made through the incomplete burning of various fuels. Common household sources of carbon monoxide include gas or oil furnaces, gas refrigerators, gas clothes dryers, gas ranges, gas water heaters or space heaters, fireplaces, charcoal grills and wood-burning stoves. Many of these are used more often in the winter, making carbon monoxide risk is higher during this time. If a car or gas-powered lawn mower engine is left running in an attached garage, these fumes (which contain carbon monoxide) can enter a home through walls or doorways.
The best way to keep your family safe is to install carbon monoxide detectors, which would sound if the gas were present in your home. Homes should have an alarm near all sleeping areas, and at least 15 feet away from any fuel-burning appliances.
When people inhale carbon monoxide, the gas replaces the oxygen in their bloodstream. This can cause them to suddenly become ill, slip into a coma, suffer brain damage or even die. Some 20,000 seek emergency medical treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning each year.
Carbon monoxide affects children the fastest. Symptoms include chest pain, difficulty breathing, dizziness, headaches, nausea and loss of consciousness. If you believe anyone in your family has inhaled carbon monoxide, remove the person from the area of possible exposure and call Poison Control immediately (1-800-222-1222) to determine your next steps. Doctors usually treat patients with oxygen and medication. The sooner treatment begins, the lower the risk for permanent damage.
Here are a few more tips for protecting your family:
- Test your carbon monoxide alarm monthly.
- Have gas, oil or coal-burning appliances, chimneys and fireplaces checked by a professional every year.
- Do not use a stove or oven to heat your home.
- Never use a grill, generator or camping stove inside your home, garage or basement.
- Do not leave your car or motorcycle engine running inside a garage, even with the garage door open.
Carbon monoxide alarms are available for 50% off during the month of January at the Safety Store, or you can pick one up at your local hardware store.