Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas that harms thousands each year. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to detect because it’s colorless, odorless, and tasteless.
You might be asking, “How can you protect yourself from carbon monoxide?” There are plenty of ways to protect yourself from it. Read this guide to understand what carbon monoxide is and how to protect yourself from it.
Learn the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Understanding the symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure will help you identify if someone has come into contact with it. Low-level exposure to carbon monoxide will produce flu-like symptoms, except there won’t be a fever.
Since the flu is a common illness during the winter months, exposure to carbon monoxide might fall under the radar because its symptoms are so similar to the flu. Some examples of these symptoms are headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
A person will exhibit more intense symptoms with increased exposure to carbon monoxide, including becoming unconscious, vomiting, losing muscle control, and experiencing mental confusion. When exposure is too great, a person will eventually die from overexposure to carbon monoxide.
Understand the Two Factors That Determine the Severity of Symptoms
To determine the severity of someone’s symptoms, you need to look at two factors. They are the concentration of carbon monoxide during their exposure and the duration of their exposure. Depending on how much carbon monoxide was in the air at the time they became exposed to it, a person might show only mild symptoms.
However, if the concentration was high, a person might immediately show strong signs of exposure, such as loss of muscle control and confusion. As for the duration, the longer a person breathes in carbon monoxide, the greater their likelihood of death will be. This is true regardless of the concentration.
Know Which Carbon Monoxide Sources Are in Your Home
As a general rule, you should know that anything in your home that burns wood, charcoal, coal, propane, natural gas, or oil could potentially be a source of carbon monoxide. Getting your home inspected by a professional will help you minimize exposure to carbon monoxide and ensure that your appliances are functioning correctly.
Some examples of home appliances that could be sources of carbon monoxide include the following:
- Wood-burning stoves
- Gas and charcoal grills
- Backup generators
- Water heaters
- Space heaters
Additionally, your car also emits carbon monoxide from the exhaust pipe. So if you park it in the garage, make sure that your garage door is open before you start your vehicle. Due to how common these appliances are, you likely have a source of carbon monoxide in your home, which is why you need to learn how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Install Functional Carbon Monoxide Detectors
The best defense against carbon monoxide poisoning is to install carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home. Even when you use your appliances properly, they might still emit carbon monoxide for various reasons. For maximum safety, install your carbon monoxide detectors near your sleeping areas so that you don’t get exposed while you’re asleep.
Also, the detectors should be close to or on your ceiling because hot air will rise and carry carbon monoxide along with it. You should also beware of any location that might produce a false alarm for your detectors, such as areas near your appliances, windows, and air vents.
Since human senses can’t detect carbon monoxide very well, CO detectors are often your only line of defense for preventing exposure. For this reason, it’s imperative that you install your detectors correctly and maintain them.
Test Your System Frequently
After installing your CO detectors, you will want to test them on a routine basis to ensure that they work properly. They won’t provide much use to you if they’re non-functional. Therefore, you need to test them to ensure that isn’t the case.
You should create a schedule for testing your detectors so that you can always be safe. However, you also need to know which models of detectors you have installed to test them properly. Furthermore, you need to ensure that your detectors can trace low levels of CO because it has a cumulative effect on your health.
Clean or Replace Your Air Filter
Two unexpected items could affect the likelihood of you getting exposed to carbon monoxide. They are your air filter and your dryer’s lint filter. When your home’s HVAC system or dryer overheats, it releases carbon monoxide into your internal atmosphere.
Consequently, you need to clean off your dryer’s lint filter after each use and change your air filter regularly to prevent this from happening. If your home’s HVAC system has a reusable air filter, make sure to clean it every 90 days to prevent your system from overheating.
On the other hand, you should completely replace your filter every 90 days if your system uses disposable air filters. Pleated AC filters are better at catching smaller particles than traditional fiberglass ones. So you should consider switching to this type of filter if you want to benefit your HVAC system as a whole.
Service Your Appliances Regularly
As you know, you should clean and inspect your appliances regularly so that they don’t release carbon monoxide. Additionally, you should have a professional come to service your appliances once a year to ensure that they’re functioning properly.
You can service your appliances on your own if you’re savvy enough, but hiring a contractor will give you peace of mind and ensure that the job gets done correctly. You should also hire someone to clean out your vents and chimney. But again, you could do these tasks on your own if you want. If you want maximum efficiency, you can schedule a technician to test your carbon monoxide detectors while they clean and service your other appliances.
Overall, carbon monoxide poisoning is a frightening thing. However, you don’t have to fear it if you take precautionary measures. Now that you know what you need to do, you won’t be asking how you can protect yourself from carbon monoxide ever again.