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How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Prevent CO PoisoningWintertime comes with many of life’s great pleasures, such as warming by a crackling fire; but there are also hazards which need to be considered. Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is the leading cause of fatal poisoning in the U.S. Using a fireplace or any other type of fuel-burning appliance is one of the most common causes of CO poisoning. The good news is that carbon monoxide poisoning is completely preventable; all that’s needed is awareness and appropriate preventative actions.

The Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide is frequently referred to as the “silent killer” because you can’t see or smell it; and it is not uncommon for a person to be overtaken by the poison before realizing what is happening. High levels of CO can kill a person within a few minutes. A person who suspects they may be experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning should immediately go outside or get someplace with a lot of ventilation. Contact emergency services if you believe anyone in your home has been exposed to the toxic fumes. The following are symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness

How CO is Produced

Carbon monoxide is produced when fuel is burned, including oil, charcoal, wood, gas, and kerosene. The efficiency of combustion or lack of it determines how much carbon monoxide is produced. It’s very dangerous to use a fuel-burning appliance that is not functioning properly, particularly in an enclosed space that lacks ventilation. More examples of CO hazards follow:

  • If there is a fire burning in the fireplace but the chimney is obstructed, the result could be an accumulation of combustion gases and exposure to CO. The same type of result occurs if there is a rusted heat exchanger or a broken chimney connector pipe.
  • If a house is too tightly sealed and won’t allow proper chimney drafting, reverse air flow can cause CO to enter the home.
  • If the burner on a natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) appliance is not properly adjusted or is not functioning properly, the result could be that life-threatening levels of CO are produced, with no visible warning signs. When these types of appliances properly function, very little CO is produced.
  • Never use paint remover containing methylene chloride around children, in small spaces, or in spaces that are not well ventilated. Our bodies convert methylene chloride into carbon monoxide.
  • Using a barbeque grill that burns charcoal indoors can cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
  • It is very dangerous to use a gas stove for too long, such as to warm the room, because it can cause CO poisoning.
  • If a car, generator, or lawnmower idles in the garage, it can cause CO fumes to enter the home.

How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The following steps can give you peace of mind and protection from carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • CO PoisoningThe most important step in safety is to install a carbon monoxide alarm on each level of your home and near bedrooms. The alarms should comply with local regulations regarding placement in the home and meet the latest Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety standards.
  • Before using your fireplace, always open the damper.
  • Never use a generator indoors.
  • Only use space heaters in well-ventilated areas.
  • Hire a professional chimney sweep to clean and inspect your chimney at least once every year.

Our chimney professionals can answer any questions you have about hazards associated with carbon monoxide. We can also check your fuel-burning appliances to ensure that they are operating properly. Give us a call today for help in taking preventative measures against the Silent Killer.

Chimney Solutions, Inc.
1155 McFarland 400 Drive, Alpharetta GA 30004
Office 770-255-1300 / Toll Free 877-697-9337

Chimney Sweep / Chimney Repairs / Chimney Liners / Fireplace & Stove Service
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