Many people have never heard of or considered having a carbon monoxide detector installed in their home. I was one of these people until I was in the process of becoming a foster/adoptive parent and having a carbon monoxide detector in each room in my house was required. I didn’t understand why this was necessary at the time, but I knew that I wanted to make my house as safe as it could be for my future children. So, I hired a professional to install a detector in each bedroom and main living area in my home. Although, I knew that I could install them myself, I wanted to make sure that it was done correctly. You might ask why is this important or even what is carbon monoxide and how does it get into my home?
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is highly flammable and toxic. It is created when carbon is not fully combusted. Carbon monoxide can be created in many items that exist in all of our homes. Some of these common appliances are cars, kerosene heaters, gas stoves, gas furnaces, gas powered generators, wood stoves, fireplaces, and gas-powered space heaters.
Why is it Dangerous?
First and foremost, carbon monoxide is dangerous because it is a poison and it can be omitted by things that we use and need daily. Also, it is especially dangerous because it can be deadly in small doses due to its unique quality of attaching to the hemoglobin in our blood and taking over the receptors that usually carry oxygen throughout our bodies. Thus, a person can suffocate from exposure to carbon monoxide in a very short amount of time (if exposed to high levels) or from very low levels (if exposed over a a long period of time). This mean you may not even know that you have been exposed to carbon monoxide and it could be slowly killing you. In addition, both babies and fetuses are especially susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning. Another great reason to have a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home!
How Do You Know if You Have Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
If you have any or a combination of these symptoms you may have carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Difficulty breathing
- Dull headache
You might wonder what you should do if you have any of these symptoms. The first thing to do always is to call 911. Also, if you are in a confined space, such as a house or garage, make sure to go outside. Get into the fresh air as quickly as possible! This will help to reduce the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and to start your body’s process of replacing the carbon monoxide that has attached to your blood with oxygen.
What Should You Do To Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
- Maintenance/ Inspection- Have your heating system, household appliances, water heaters, chimneys and fireplaces inspected yearly by a qualified professional technician.
- Cars/ Trucks- DON’T leave your car/truck/SUV running in your garage with the door closed, especially if your garage is attached to your home! Make sure to have your vehicle’s exhaust system checked yearly to insure it is not leaking excessive amounts of carbon monoxide
- Grills/ Generators- Only used fuel powered grills and generators OUTDOORS!
- Space Heaters- space heaters should only be used when people are awake. The carbon monoxide that can be emitted from a fuel powered (kerosene or gas) space heater can kill a person in their sleep.
- Carbon Monoxide Detectors- Install carbon monoxide detectors or have them installed by a professional technician, throughout your home
Where Should You Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors?
First, it is always best to have a qualified professional install carbon monoxide detector in your home. But, if you decide to do it yourself, there are some guidelines you should follow. One guideline is that if your house has more than one story you should have at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor. Also, a detector should be installed outside of each bedroom in the home and in the laundry room (If you have a gas dryer or washer). In addition, you should install a detector above the door that connects your garage to your house. Lastly, all detectors should be installed at 5 feet in order to detect carbon monoxide in the air.
If you don’t have carbon monoxide detectors in your home, have them installed! Call a professional today!
Keep your family safe from this invisible monster!