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5 Steps to Protect Your Family From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

03/06/17

Gas is a convenient and cost-effective power option for many homeowners. You may use a combination of electricity and gas to heat your home and run your appliances. Unfortunately, gas lines can become a serious health hazard if they develop leaks.

Luckily, you can protect your family from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning by taking the following five steps.

1. Determine If You Need a Carbon Monoxide Detector

If you primarily use electricity in your home, you may be at relatively little risk for carbon monoxide gas exposure. But regardless of your main fuel source, you may still need to install a carbon monoxide detector. Experts recommend detectors in any home with:

  • A backup generator
  • An attached garage
  • An oil or gas furnace
  • Gas appliances, such as oven ranges
  • Space heaters

You may need multiple detectors if you have several gas appliances or a home with multiple stories. An indoor air quality expert can help you determine the correct number and placement, as we’ll discuss in the next section.

2. Consult With an Indoor Air Quality Expert

Schedule an appointment for an indoor air quality expert to walk through your home and assess how many detectors are needed and where they should be placed.

Additionally, this professional can provide you with high-quality detectors and precision installation. Not all carbon monoxide detectors provide the same level of protection. It’s important to purchase reputable products from a trusted manufacturer to give your family the best possible protection.

3. Learn the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide gas is undetectable until it begins to cause symptoms-and detectors that can sense the gas’ presence are key in helping you detect a carbon monoxide leak. To minimize the potential harm done by a carbon monoxide leak, know the symptoms of exposure.

The first symptoms to appear are usually:

  • Headache and dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Feelings of tiredness and fatigue

Visit the HELP Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Drains page on “Symptoms and Management of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning” for a full list of symptoms.

If you notice any combination of these symptoms, move to an area with fresh air. If the symptoms persist for any significant period of time, seek emergency medical care.

4. Maintain Your Gas Appliances Appropriately

In most cases, gas appliances can be used safely as long as they are properly maintained. Have your gas appliances inspected annually and repair any issues as soon as they occur.

Keep your gas systems clean and in good working order. Be sure to include your chimney and flue in your cleaning routine.

Additionally, check your carbon monoxide detector batteries every six months. If your detector is wired into your home’s electrical system, consider installing a battery backup to ensure that your family is protected in the case of a power outage.

5. Avoid Dangerous Practices

In addition to carbon monoxide exposure caused by appliance problems, some cases of exposure happen due to user error. Before using a new gas appliance, familiarize yourself with the owner’s manual and the controls. Do not let children or guests who don’t have similar appliances use your gas appliances without help and supervision.

Avoid the following unsafe practices:

  • Keeping any generators outdoors
  • Lighting a fire without opening the damper
  • Only using your gas appliances for their intended purpose
  • Running your car inside a closed attached garage
  • Using a grill inside your home or attached garage

When using any equipment that could create carbon monoxide gas, check that you have adequate ventilation.

Follow these guidelines to ensure that you can enjoy the efficiency of your gas power without worrying about your health or safety.

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