Each year, carbon monoxide poisoning brings more than 20,000 Americans to the emergency room—around 4,000 of whom are hospitalized, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. Additionally, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning (not linked to fires).
With the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning being especially high during the winter, here’s what to know about preventing it.
How does carbon monoxide poisoning happen?
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas present in the fumes produced when fuel burns to operate motor vehicles, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces, according to the CDC. Breathing air with high levels of carbon monoxide can poison humans and animals.
Although it can occur any time of the year, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is highest during the winter, the National Safety Council (NSC) reports. This is because furnaces are on, and windows (which would provide fresh air and ventilation) are closed. Plus, as the NSC points out, people may turn on their cars to warm them in the garage without opening the garage door (don’t do that), increasing carbon monoxide levels in a home.
What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning a person experiences depends on the amount of the gas in the air, and the length of their exposure to it.
According to the NSC, the symptoms of low-to-moderate carbon monoxide poisoning can include:
- Shortness of breath
And higher-level, more serious carbon monoxide poisoning includes symptoms like:
- Mental confusion
- Loss of muscular coordination
- Loss of consciousness
If a person’s exposure to carbon monoxide is long enough, they could lose consciousness and die. If you experience the symptoms above and think you may be dealing with carbon monoxide poisoning, go outside immediately and get some fresh air.
How to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home
In addition to not turning your car on in the garage with the door closed, here are some other tips for preventing carbon monoxide poisoning, courtesy of the CDC:
- Install a battery-operated (or battery back-up) carbon monoxide detector in your home, and remember to check the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall, and replace it if necessary.
- Have your furnace, water heater and any other gas or coal-burning appliances serviced every year.
- Have your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned every year.
- Be sure that your fireplace damper is open before lighting a fire, and left open well after the fire is extinguished.
- Never use a gas oven for heating your home.
- Never use a generator inside your home, basement or garage or fewer than 20 feet from any window, door or vent.
If your carbon monoxide detector goes off, get out of your home immediately, and call 911.
Credit: Source link