Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Killer

This National Preparedness Month, we’d like to draw your attention to a threat that’s very close to home. Inside the home, in fact.

Carbon monoxide.

An odorless, colorless gas, carbon monoxide is found in the fumes produced by burning fuel in vehicles; fireplaces, furnaces, or grills; small engines or generators; and lanterns. And it can be deadly. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control points out that each year, more than 400 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning not linked to fires. Additionally, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized.

So how can you protect your family from this invisible threat?

The first step is to install a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of the home, within 10 feet of each bedroom door, and near or over an attached garage. Make sure you read the manual that comes with your detector, and remember to keep it stocked with fresh batteries. (A good rule of thumb is to change the batteries each time we go through a time change: that way twice a year, the detector will get new batteries.)

Remember that carbon monoxide detectors are not smoke alarms! These are two different devices that perform different functions (although you may be able to purchase a two-in-one model that can warn you both about carbon monoxide and smoke).

It’s also recommended that property owners obtain annual service for their heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances, in addition to having the chimney checked and cleaned each year. It’s also a good idea to have your car exhaust system serviced each year to prevent carbon monoxide build-up inside the vehicle.

Carbon monoxide can also build up in the following situations:

  • If you patch a vent pipe with tape or gum.
  • If you use a gas range or oven for heating.
  • If you burn charcoal indoors.
  • If you use a portable gas camp stove indoors.
  • If you use a generator inside your home, basement, or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent.

Carbon monoxide exposure can result in the following symptoms:

  • confusion
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • dull headache
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss of consciousness

If you believe someone in your home has been exposed to carbon monoxide, move that person into the fresh air and get emergency medical care right away.

For more than 35 years, Insurance Partners, Inc., has been providing quality protection for individuals, families, and businesses, helping people make sense of their insurance needs so they can look forward to a brighter, more secure future. If you have questions about your insurance coverage, contact us.

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