Friday, January 9, 2015

Silent Killer: Carbon Monoxide and Family Safety

It's a fact that cannot be over-emphasized: carbon monoxide alarms save lives. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer; an odorless, tasteless, and colorless gas that can go totally undetected until concentrations have built up to dangerous levels. Inhaling carbon monoxide interferes with your body's ability to properly transport oxygen and, when inhaled over a long period or in high concentrations, can result in carbon monoxide poisoning - which can be fatal. Signs of potential carbon monoxide exposure include (but are not limited to):
  • drowsiness, 
  • dizziness, 
  • headaches, 
  • confusion, 
  • burning eyes, and 
  • loss of consciousness.
Carbon monoxide is a natural by-product of many common home appliances, such as: charcoal/gas grills, hot water heaters, furnaces, fireplaces, stoves, and space heaters. Such appliances should be installed and routinely maintained by professionals to ensure that all carbon monoxide emissions are being routed out of your home to keep your family safe. In addition, every home should be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, which need to be installed about knee level (and be sure to change batteries twice yearly just as you do with smoke detectors!). Note: if you have young children or pets that could reach detectors located at knee-level, try placing them at chest height or in a hard-to-reach area (just be sure the detector is never blocked by furniture, curtains or other obstructions as interrupted airflow may hinder it's performance).

If you have only one, your carbon monoxide detector should be located near your family’s bedrooms. Ideally, however, carbon monoxide detectors should be placed throughout your home, just as your smoke alarms are, particularly in areas where appliances such as furnaces, water heaters, stoves, fireplaces, and grills are located. Likewise, garages that house vehicles should be equipped with a detector. If you live in a multi-story home, place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level.

If you are in the market for a carbon monoxide detector, the following two are among our favorites for ease of use and quality rating:

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