Unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is responsible for at least 430 deaths and 50,000 emergency room visits in the US every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With the proper precautions, CO poisoning is entirely preventable. Here’s how to protect your family from this “silent killer,” as well as how to respond if your carbon monoxide alarm goes off.

Tips to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Schedule annual maintenance for your combustion appliances, which include anything that runs on natural gas, oil, propane, kerosene, wood, or charcoal.
  • Ensure proper ventilation for combustion furnaces, boilers, dryers, cooktops, ovens, fireplaces, stoves, and space heaters. Keep vents free of snow, animal nests, and other obstructions that could draft fumes back into your home.
  • Never use a gas range or oven as a method of heating your home.
  • Don’t operate camp stoves, gas-powered generators, or charcoal grills inside, in the garage, or within 20 feet of an open window or door.
  • Have your fireplace or stove chimney professionally cleaned and inspected once a year.
  • Keep the fireplace flue open when a fire is lit. Close the damper again only when the fire is completely extinguished.
  • Don’t leave your car running while it’s parked in the garage. Even with the door wide open, this can lead to carbon monoxide buildup in the garage and, subsequently, the house.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm on each level of your home. Choose battery-operated or battery-backup alarms that will function even during a power outage.
  • Test your CO alarms once a month by pressing the test button. Be sure to alert your family before you proceed to prevent frightening anyone.
  • Replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide alarms twice a year. To help you remember, make a habit of changing the batteries when you adjust your clocks for daylight saving time.

What to Do if You Suspect a Carbon Monoxide Leak

Watch for symptoms of CO poisoning, which may include headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and fast pulse. Exposure to higher concentrations of this toxic gas is even more dangerous, possibly causing confusion, fainting, seizures, irregular heartbeat, coma, heart attack, or even death.

If a carbon monoxide alarm goes off, follow these steps:

  • Open the windows.
  • Turn off all fuel-burning appliances.
  • Go outside.
  • If someone is experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning, call 911 for help and get that person to a hospital as soon as possible.
  • Call the fire department for help detecting the source of the carbon monoxide leak and to learn when it’s safe to reenter your home.
  • Arrange a repair for the faulty equipment before operating it again.

Knowing how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is an important part of emergency preparedness. For more useful tips, or to request assistance following a fire, flood, or other disaster in your home, please contact DKI online or call us at 844-354-2255 today.