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Do You Know How To Protect Your Family From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Carbon monoxide (CO) has been called the “silent killer.” That’s because it is an odorless,
colorless, tasteless, nonirritating gas that, in high concentrations, can lead to serious illness,
injury or death. Its primary sources are nonelectric cooking and heating units, but outdoor
tools, automobiles and generators are also sources. Proper use of fuel-burning appliances
and engines can save lives and prevent debilitating health issues.

Never use a charcoal or gas grill inside, even in a garage. Don’t use gas cooking ranges to
produce warmth when regular heating systems are not available; they can create unsafe
levels of CO. Portable generators should never be used in an interior space, such as a garage
or basement. Even water heaters, furnaces and some nonelectric space heaters can
malfunction and spew CO into living areas of your home. That is why annual checkups for
these systems are crucial. Ask your maintenance crew to check specifically for CO
emissions. Malfunctioning systems can create long-term buildup of the gas over time or
high concentrations in just a few hours.

During winter, many people warm their cars before heading off to work or school. An
enclosed garage or one that is attached to a home is the wrong place to do that. Carbon
monoxide can build up unseen, seeping into the car itself or into bedrooms where children
are sleeping. Remember, it takes less gas to harm a small child than an adult. The elderly,
the unborn, people with anemia, and people with heart or respiratory problems are also
more susceptible.

Symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to other ailments, so they might be ignored. Here are
some of the more common symptoms:

  • Headaches.
  • Dizziness.
  • Weakness.
  • Loss of muscle control.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Visual changes.
  • Confusion.
  • Slowed reaction time.

Continued or extreme short-term exposure can lead to suffocation, loss of consciousness,
brain damage and death. If everyone in your home comes down with a symptom and there
is no fever or known illness, suspect carbon monoxide.

If you notice symptoms of CO exposure, get fresh air immediately. If symptoms have
progressed to more advanced stages, call for medical help. If possible, turn off the fuel-
burning source, open doors and windows, and contact your fire department or heating,
ventilation and air conditioning company. Blocked flues or vents, faulty equipment and bad
decisions are all factors in elevated CO levels.

Make maintenance a priority, follow basic safety rules and consider installing a quality CO
alarm that can provide early detection. Ask your Trusted Choice ® Independent Insurance
Agent for more information about keeping yourself and your loved ones safe from carbon
monoxide poisoning.

sean clark