With the turning of the calendar comes resolutions and goals for the New Year. One of those goals should be to increase the safety of your home. As fireplaces are in full burn during the winter season, the danger of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in the home greatly increases. Not surprisingly, CO poisoning deaths are most common in the winter. But did you know that this danger exists all year long? Here’s a little information about this serious safety concern and how to address it in your home.
Carbon Monoxide Facts
Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas produced from burning fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, propane, coal, or wood. In the home, common sources are fireplaces, furnaces, generators, wood stoves, kerosene space heaters, charcoal grills, gas appliances such as water heaters, stoves, ovens, and dryers, and cars running in an attached garage. Carbon monoxide can build up in the home quickly. If you breathe in a lot of CO, it can cause you to pass out or even kill you. No one is immune to the dangers of CO poisoning. In fact, carbon monoxide is the most common cause of deadly poisonings.
According to SafeWise, an independent review company (safewise.com/blog/states-carbon-monoxide-poisoning), heating systems are responsible for 34% of all CO accidents. Engine-driven tools (like generators, snowblowers, etc.) account for 42% of non-fire-related CO poisoning in the US. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized. Overall, 25% of CO poisoning in the U.S. takes place in the Midwest. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (dhs.wisconsin.gov), about 500 Wisconsin residents visit the emergency room each year due to CO poisoning.
Symptoms and Solutions
The signs and symptoms of CO poisoning include dizziness, headache, weakness, upset stomach, confusion, chest pain, vomiting, and loss of consciousness. But you do not have to experience accidental CO poisoning. You can minimize (if not eliminate) your chances of falling victim to this covert killer. Know the signs and symptoms, follow safety measures in the home with heaters and appliances, and install a CO detector in your home. In fact, this issue is so critical that Wisconsin State law requires carbon monoxide detectors to be placed on each floor level in all Wisconsin homes. This law includes the basement but not the attic or storage areas.
Carbon monoxide detectors can be purchased at most hardware stores. Similar to a smoke detector, a CO detector sounds an alarm if it senses danger. It is recommended that you have an alarm in every room that has a fuel-burning appliance and one within 16 feet of every bedroom. Because carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than air, detectors should be placed on a wall about 5 feet above the floor or on the ceiling. Do not place the detector right next to or over a fireplace or flame-producing appliance. More than one alarm may be required to offer full protection. If CO is detected, the alarm should sound within a few minutes to half an hour of constant exposure. Remember to schedule a regular time to check and replace batteries, just like you do with your smoke alarms.
Turnkey Homes Cares About Your Safety
Turnkey Homes values your safety in your home and encourages you to take steps to lower your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Make it a priority at the beginning of the year to install CO detectors in your home. Visit the websites for SafeWise and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services for extensive information and tips on how to protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide. Take immediate action if your CO detector sounds or if you experience headaches, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, and/or confusion. Call your local fire department and move everyone outdoors into fresh air. Do not re-enter the home until it has been inspected and declared safe.
Turnkey Homes is a custom home builder and experienced remodeler in the Appleton-Green Bay area and offers many professional services in addition to home building and remodeling. Visit our blog for other helpful articles related to your home. If you have questions, reach us by phone at (920) 470-4315 or online at turnkeyhomesllc.com/contact-us.