Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas produced by items commonly found in homes. Gas-stoves, furnaces, water-heaters, chimneys, and space heaters – items that burn fuel – produce CO. If your home is not ventilated properly or these items are not properly maintained, you and your family may be exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning. The symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to those of the flu or even the common cold. They include: nausea and vomiting, headaches and dizziness; fatigue and weakness. Because these symptoms are present in common illnesses, it may be difficult to suspect exposure to CO poisoning. If left untreated, CO poisoning may lead to permanent damage to organs, such as the heart, and overexposure may be fatal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 500 people per year in the United States are fatal victims of “Unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning.”
Consider contacting your local utility companies to inspect any equipment you suspect may be faulty or might contribute to the air quality of your home. The following steps can help minimize exposure to CO poisoning:
- Allow fresh air into the house regularly through open windows, and/or screen doors.
- Remember to have your chimney inspected and cleaned once a year to ensure the flue is clear.
- Wait until your garage door is open before starting your car.
- Always be sure that your gas stove is completely turned off when it is not in use.