Carbon monoxide is an odorless, poisonous gas that is produced any time fuel is burned. Inhale this gas, and you'll begin to experience symptoms like upset stomach, headaches, confusion and exhaustion. At high levels, carbon monoxide can even cause death. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from harming anyone in your home, follow these tips:
Purchase a carbon monoxide detector. These devices will ring or beep when carbon monoxide is present in your home. Place the detector in a place where it will wake you if it rings at night, and make sure you check the batteries regularly.
Don't use gas or charcoal grills indoors. Outdoor grills are not designed for safe indoor use. The fumes, which contain carbon monoxide, will build up in your home.
Have your heating and cooling system inspected annually. Your HVAC technician will make sure that your furnace's ventilation system is in good shape so that fumes are being exhausted properly, rather than being allowed to accumulate in your home.
Have your chimney cleaned annually. Chimneys associated with wood stoves or fireplaces can easily become clogged with soot, birds nests, fallen leaves and other debris. Have your chimney cleaned and inspected each fall before you start using it for the winter, and make sure it has a cap to prevent debris from blowing down into it.
Never use a gas or propane stove to heat your home. These appliances are not designed to be left on continually, and using them as a heat source can cause carbon monoxide to build up in your home.
Make sure your generator is placed outdoors and far away from any doors, vents, or windows. Gas and propane-powered generators give off carbon monoxide, so make sure the exhaust is directed away from your home.
Don't patch holes in vent pipes yourself. Hire a professional to do the repairs if you detect a hole or crack in a vent pipe leading from your wood stove, furnace, range or another gas appliance. DIY patches can fail, causing exhaust to slowly seep into your home.
Don't make furnace repairs yourself. All repairs to your HVAC system should be performed by a qualified technician to ensure the unit operates safely.
Carbon monoxide is known as the "silent killer," but as long as you follow the tips above, you won't have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning affecting you or your loved ones.