The Importance of your Carbon Monoxide Monitor

A couple of months ago, I was outside visiting with my neighbor and her young son. We were playing catch in the yard when the neighbor boys came running outside. They looked incredibly frazzled. As they came down to join in on our game of catch my neighbor and I asked the boys what was going on that they couldn’t play inside. They proceeded to tell me about the really obnoxious beeping sound that had been coming from their upstairs hallway for the past few hours and how annoyed they were. Just as they finished telling me about the ‘beeping’ their mom came out to grab them and take them to dinner. She too claimed she couldn’t handle the beeping anymore and that they just had to get out of the house.

It was only later that afternoon that I realized it was her CO monitor that had been going off. She has two young boys, and although she assumed nothing was wrong, that they monitor was just malfunctioning, she – like so many others – didn’t really know the dangers of this silent killer.

Carbon Monoxide is a tasteless, odorless gas. While there are some warning signs, so many people mistake these warning signs (headache, nausea) for common illnesses and are unable to make the connection before it is too late.

In 2013, an approximate 35,000 people were hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning. According to the U.S Fire Administration, more than 150 people die each year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

The following precautions from the USFA can help prevent exposure to CO fumes:

  • Have fuel-burning heating equipment (fireplaces, furnaces, water heaters, wood stoves, coal stoves, space heaters and portable heaters) and chimneys inspected by a professional every year.
  • Open the damper for proper ventilation before using a fireplace.
  • Never use your oven or stovetop to heat your home. When purchasing new heating and cooking equipment, select products tested and labeled by a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Make sure all fuel-burning vented equipment is vented to the outside. Keep the venting for exhaust clear and unblocked.
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Never run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if the garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not blocked with snow, ice or other materials. Make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris.
  • Only use barbecue grills outside, away from all doors, windows, vents and other building openings. Some grills can produce CO gas. Never use grills inside the home or the garage, even if the doors are open.
  • Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from all doors, windows, vents and other building openings to prevent exhaust fumes from entering the home.