Carbon Monoxide: How To Protect Yourself
Sometimes, COVID-19 has been referred to as the “invisible enemy.” But there has been another unseen danger that has been around a lot longer—carbon monoxide.
But before we delve deeper into this, you should take comfort in the fact that oil heat poses a very low risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If an oil burner malfunctions (most often due to a lack of maintenance), the safety devices in the unit will typically shut the furnace or boiler off.
Plus, you will usually see smoke emitting from your boiler or furnace to indicate that something is wrong. A gas heating system, on the other hand, usually does not issue a visual warning sign if there is a carbon monoxide problem.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that oil heat consumers shouldn’t have working carbon monoxide detectors inside their home, especially near all bedrooms. Besides a malfunctioning boiler or furnace, there are many other sources for carbon monoxide leaks.
Other causes of carbon monoxide leaks:
- operating unvented appliances for long periods of time
- back drafts caused by pressure imbalances near the heating system
- leaving a vehicle idling in an attached garage
- running a gasoline-powered generator in a basement or attached garage
- a blocked flue
That’s why you should always make sure you check your detectors regularly to confirm they operate properly!
Facts about carbon monoxide and why it’s so dangerous:
- Carbon monoxide (CO) is so deadly because it’s an odorless, colorless gas. Yes, it really is invisible. It’s created when any kind of fuel is burned.
- Because carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, it can build up to dangerous levels inside your home without you or anyone else realizing it.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning happens when carbon monoxide builds up in your bloodstream and the oxygen in your red blood cells is replaced with carbon monoxide. That deprives vital organs like your brain, lungs and heart of the oxygen they need, which can cause serious injury or death.
- If carbon monoxide poisoning happens while you’re sleeping, you and your family may never wake up.
- Infants, people with respiratory issues or chronic heart disease, and the elderly are most vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Signs of CO poisoning:
Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” Here are specific symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Upset stomach or nausea
If you notice these symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in yourself or anyone else in your home, take these steps IMMEDIATELY.
What to do if you have CO poisoning symptoms:
- Get fresh air right away by opening doors and windows
- Leave the house right after that
- Call 911
- Report your symptoms to your doctor
- Don’t go back in your home until emergency personnel say it’s safe to do so
- Don’t use your appliances until they have been professionally inspected
- Install CO detectors on every level of your home. There should also be one outside all bedrooms. Replace the batteries once a year, test them twice a year. If your CO detector is five years old or older, replace it.
- Have your heating system professionally maintained. Regular maintenance gives your service technician the opportunity to spot and repair problems before they become a hazard.
- Give space for vents. If exhaust vents are blocked, carbon monoxide can build up to dangerous levels inside your home. Clear all exhaust vents, flues and other lines after storms so the exhaust can be dispersed safely out of your home. Use a broom and not a shovel to prevent any damage.
- If you have an attached garage, don’t let the car engine run while your car is the garage even for a few minutes. If you want to warm up the car before going somewhere, move it outside of the garage first.
- Watch your pets. They may show signs of CO poisoning before they appear in you or any other people in your home. If a pet seems sick or are unusually slow to wake up, take them outside, check your carbon monoxide detectors and open windows. Also, get your pet to the veterinarian right away.
- Keep outdoor equipment outside. NEVER use barbecue grills, portable generators, or outdoor deck and patio heaters indoors. They are not equipped to safely vent and can create carbon monoxide build-up inside your home. Don’t use your gas stove or oven for heating, either.
Lawman’s Oil cares about our customers and puts your safety first at all times. Be smart, be careful and be safe!
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