As the seasons change, temperatures get colder and storms cause the loss of heat, more families are using gas appliances to keep their homes warm. Fuel-powered devices can provide wonderful benefit to families when used properly, but they also underscore an important necessity in the home: the need for a carbon monoxide alarm.
Why it Matters
Carbon monoxide is a gas that you cannot see, taste, or smell. It is created when fuel, such as gasoline, kerosene, propane, natural gas, oil, wood or charcoal do not burn properly. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from faulty furnaces or other heating appliances, portable generators, water heaters, clothes dryers, or cars left running in garages. At its worst, carbon monoxide can cause severe side effects or even death.
Young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of carbon monoxide because of their smaller bodies. Children process carbon monoxide differently than adults; may be more severely affected by it, and may show signs sooner. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, and drowsiness.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Similar to smoke alarms, a carbon monoxide alarm should be located on every level of your home, especially near sleeping areas, and keep them at least 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances. (For the best protection, have carbon monoxide alarms that are interconnected throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.) It also is important to test alarms regularly and replace them every five to seven years depending on the manufacturer’s label.
Carbon monoxide alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms and vice versa. Combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are available and should be installed appropriately.
- Don’t use a grill, generator, or camping stove inside your home, garage, or near a window.
- If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Don’t leave a car, SUV, or motorcycle engine running inside a garage, even if the doors are open.
- Never use your oven or stovetop to heat your home.
- On the outside of your home, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris.
If your carbon monoxide alarm sounds leave the house and immediately move outdoors or to an open window or door for some fresh air. Make sure everyone inside your home is accounted for. Call 9-1-1. Remain outside or by an open window until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.