Unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning takes an annual toll, putting around 20,000 people in the emergency room every year. Of these, there are typically around 400 fatal incidents and 4,000 cases where people have to spend time in the hospital while they recover. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention take this seriously, tracking the statistics and advocating for more knowledge regarding carbon monoxide.
The reason for this is that carbon monoxide is known as an invisible killer, so many people don’t even have a clue that they’re in danger when they’re being exposed. They can’t taste, see or smell the gas. They don’t think anything is wrong until they start to manifest physical symptoms, meaning they have already suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The biggest risk with carbon monoxide is when it fills an enclosed space and people do not notice quickly. This is why many of the accidents happen while people are asleep. Carbon monoxide poisoning can slowly have an impact on your body – slowing your breathing, for instance – in a way that doesn’t necessarily wake you up. It can eventually lead to someone passing out, so they may not even notice their own symptoms before it is too late. Going to sleep is one of the most dangerous things you can do during carbon monoxide exposure.
Additionally, it can be difficult to feel safe around carbon monoxide since it can be created by many different devices, such as furnaces, gas ranges, grills, stoves, and even cars and trucks. Below are five critical tips to help you avoid dangerous carbon monoxide exposure.
Install carbon monoxide detectors
Do not assume that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are the same. Some of them are combined devices that will do both, but not all. Make sure that you have carbon monoxide detectors in your home, on every level and in front of every sleeping area, just like smoke detectors. Always remember that you cannot smell, taste or see carbon monoxide, so having a proper detector is the only way to keep yourself safe.
Test the detectors periodically
Additionally, you want to run tests on these detectors on a set schedule. Some people do it every month. Some people do it once a year. But one of the biggest problems – which leads to many of these accidents – is that people install the detectors and then never test them again, so they are not working 10 years in the future, when they are most needed. Be sure you always check yours so that you know that they are functioning properly.
Remember the sources of carbon monoxide
One of the biggest things to remember is that burning fuel in your home is going to create carbon monoxide. This is why you should never run a charcoal grill or a gas grill in the house or in the garage. It may seem safe, and some people have even done it as a way to stay warm. But it is always dangerous and these devices should only be used in well-ventilated areas.
Warm your car up outside
A similar and yet more serious problem that people face is that they warm the car up in the morning and it fills the garage with carbon monoxide. If it’s cold, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to leave the garage door open and why you would want your car to be inside. But doing so is highly dangerous. You need to back the car out and let it run in the driveway, where the carbon monoxide can dissipate into the atmosphere. Letting it run in the garage can cause it to build up to deadly levels quickly.
Know what carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms you should look for
Finally, it’s important to understand when you may be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning and what types of symptoms you’re going to have. Since you can’t detect the gas itself, these symptoms are your main indicator outside of an official carbon monoxide detector. Potential symptoms include:
- Trouble breathing
- Mental confusion
- Loss of coordination
- And much more
At the very worst, carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to a loss of consciousness, which can become fatal if the person doesn’t get treatment and isn’t removed from the danger zone immediately. If this happens to someone that you know, call 911 quickly and get everyone else out of the house.
Here at Rockwall Insurance, we are dedicated to helping you stay safe this year. Be sure you know the types of safety and protection systems that are useful in your house, along with the insurance policy that can give you the stability and security you need.