Along with the cold temperatures, snow and ice, winter also brings unpredictable dangers, including the threat of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, CO poisoning is the number one cause of accidental poisonings in the U.S. Referred to as the “silent killer,” CO is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that can only be detected with a CO alarm.
“As temperatures dip and we crank up the heat, it is important to make sure your home is equipped with the adequate number of working CO alarms,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert. “Proper placement and maintenance of CO alarms can potentially save the lives of you and your loved ones.”
Every year, CO poisoning takes the lives of over 400 people, while an additional 50,000 people are treated for it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and half of these deaths occur between November and February.
Here are five ways to ensure you are practicing CO safety this winter:
Check your alarms. Be sure to check all carbon monoxide alarms in your home by testing them regularly and replacing the batteries at least twice each year. Generally, CO alarms should be replaced every five to seven years. However, newer CO alarm models, such as the First Alert 10-Year CO Alarm, now offer a lifespan of 10 years, allowing you to rest easy without having to worry about changing the batteries every six months. CO alarms should be installed on every floor, including the basement, and in or near every sleeping area of the home.
Warm up your car outside. Do not attempt to warm up your car or leave your car running inside of the garage, even if the garage door is open. Garages are a common source of carbon monoxide, and in the case of attached garages, these fumes can leak into the home. Other common sources of CO include, but are not limited to, heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, appliances or cooking sources using coal, wood, petroleum products or other fuels that emit CO as a by-product of combustion.
Ensure proper ventilation. The kitchen stove is among the most frequent sources of CO poisoning in the home. To help eliminate the danger of overexposure, always run exhaust fans when cooking and periodically open a nearby window when using the oven or stove to allow fresh air to circulate. Never use the stove to heat your home.
Maintain fuel-burning appliances. Have a professional inspect any fuel-burning appliances throughout the home each season. This includes furnaces, water heaters, ovens and dryers, as carbon monoxide can leak from any fuel-burning device. If using a fireplace to heat your home, make sure your flue is open and have your chimney checked and cleaned each year by a professional.
Know the symptoms of CO poisoning. Because you can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, you might not recognize the symptoms of CO poisoning, as they can be confused with common cold and flu symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, chest pain and vomiting. If a CO alarm sounds or symptoms appear, exit the home immediately and call 911.
To learn more about how to keep your home safe, visit FirstAlert.com.