As colder weather begins to roll around, many preventative measures in our homes are important to protect us from the elements and common indoor hazards. One hazard that is more prevalent in the winter season is gas leaks. These leaks can come from a furnace or water heater and may produce carbon monoxide (CO) fumes that can be deadly.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced by incomplete burning of fuels like coal, wood, charcoal, oil, propane or natural gas. If your furnace or water heater’s burners become dirty or are not working properly, you could be at risk.
Since carbon monoxide can’t be detected by the senses, you might not even know it’s there until you begin to experience symptoms. With low-level exposure you may begin to detect:
- shortness of breath
When exposure becomes ongoing, symptoms worsen and become more severe:
- mental confusion
- loss of coordination
- loss of consciousness
Experiencing these symptoms inside your home is very serious and requires further investigation by a professional. Here are some common tips to avoid furthering carbon monoxide invasion.
- Have electrical and burning appliances inspected and serviced regularly
- Never use portable generators with gas engines in an enclosed space
- Never leave the car running in the garage (even with the door up)
- Don’t use appliances for warming the inside of your home
- Never use portable fuel or burning camping equipment inside your home or garage
Most importantly, buy and install a carbon monoxide detector. Most detectors will sound before the CO reaches a dangerous level, which will allow preventative measures to be taken. Having a carbon monoxide detector can literally save your life.