As the weather gets colder in the Denver Colorado and surrounding areas, families are using their fuel burning appliances on a more regular basis. According to the US Census, 83% of single family homes in Colorado use gas, kerosene, coal or wood as their major source of heat. All of these fuels emit carbon monoxide – a silent invisible danger.
The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) report that there are more than 150 accidental deaths each year resulting from from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning with the majority being due to faulty appliances or improper venting.
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and toxic gas. It is undetectable to the human sense of smell or taste. Because of these unique features of this gas you may become ill before you even realize or suspect it is present in your home.
Our temperatures here in Colorado tend to drop in October which is generally the same time the flu season hits. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning very closely resemble flu symptoms and include include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning vary greatly from person to person. Young children under the age of 5 are the most susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning and may experience symptoms earlier than adults do. The effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending on age, overall health and the concentration and length of exposure.
Since CO poisoning symptoms resemble those associated with the flu – headache, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue – it is imperative that you take certain steps to prevent this needless accident in your home
Here are some simple steps that you can take to keep yourself and your family safe:
- Install carbon monoxide alarms that produce an audible warning signal outside every individual bedroom in your home on every level of your home.
- Carbon monoxide alarms are designed to sound an alarm before an average, healthy adult would experience symptoms as they measure levels of CO over time. It is very possible that you may not be experiencing symptoms when you hear the alarm. This does not mean that CO is not present.
- A carbon monoxide alarm can cost as little as $20 and will last approximately seven years.
- Be sure the alarm has been evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
- Have all your fuel burning appliances, furnaces, venting and chimney systems inspected by a qualified professional at least once a year.
- Never use your oven or range to help heat your home.
- Never use a hibachi or charcoal grill or in your home or garage.
- Never use gas-powered generators indoors. Make sure that your generator is properly vented away from your home or other enclosed spaces.
- Never operate gasoline fueled snow-blowers in enclosed spaces.
- Do not warm up your car by keeping it running in your garage.
- Simply opening your garage doors while warming up your car does NOT provide enough circulation of fresh air to reliably prevent a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide
For more information on carbon monoxide safety, visit http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/co/index.shtm.