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How to Spot and Stop a Carbon Monoxide Leak
Appropriately nicknamed the silent killer, carbon monoxide (CO) can be
lethal. Hence a carbon monoxide leak in your home must be dealt with immediately.
Educating yourself on the dangers and symptoms associated with CO exposure
and knowing the preventative measures will give you peace of mind.
Know your Enemy
Carbon monoxide is a gas that has no color, taste or smell – it
is essentially undetectable by the human senses. When you have been exposed
or poisoned by CO the resulting symptoms are
very similar to those of the common flu, and so may further confuse or
blind you to the presence of carbon monoxide.
Dangerous CO Sources in your Home
There are ways to detect and protect yourself and your family against
a deadly carbon monoxide leak. The first step is to be aware of the potential
culprits, the sources of carbon monoxide.
- Car exhaust systems are a well-known source. Never
run your car in the garage without adequate ventilation. Leave the garage
door wide open.
- Furnaces are often the cause of a carbon monoxide
leak. As they burn fuel to produce heat, they exhaust CO. If that exhaust
is not properly ventilated, or if the ventilation is blocked in some
way, the deadly gas will filter into your home.
- Common household appliances and units that burn fuel,
such as water heaters, propane refrigerators, and gas stoves and ovens
can emit carbon monoxide, posing a potential threat to members of your
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. A
person with flu-like symptoms that are not accompanied by a fever or aches,
and appear less severe at certain times of day or in certain areas of
the house should be checked out by a doctor. And if these symptoms are
altered when the person is exposed to fresh air, or if other household
members have similar health issues at the same time (including pets),
you should have the CO levels in your house checked.
Have a Battle Plan
An effective preventative measure against the hazards of a carbon monoxide
leak is to install CO detectors in your home. These detectors set off
an alarm when the level of CO is too high. At the sound of the warning
signal, you and your family must quickly exit the house and seek some
help to pin point the source.
Because gas rises, carbon monoxide detectors should be installed at the
highest point of your ceiling. Be sure not to place them within five feet
of a stove or heater as this will result in frequent false alarms, eventually
eroding your confidence in the detectors. All CO detectors should be tested
rigorously prior to installation, and should have a government health
and safety approval label attached.
To further limit the risk of a carbon monoxide leak occurring in your
home, always have certified professionals install your appliances. They
will use proper parts and fittings to ensure safe use. Never utilize an
appliance outside of its purpose (i.e. heating your house with a gas stove).
Remember that sufficient ventilation is essential.
Protect your home and your family by knowing the sources of potential
carbon monoxide leaks, being aware of the symptoms of CO poisoning, and
by installing approved CO detectors. Ensure
your safety and peace of mind.