The Myths & Realities of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The threat of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is often misunderstood. Despite that this deadly gas causes in-home fatalities every year, many homeowners fail to see the risk to their own lives. As such, they choose not to install CO detectors in their home, or they mistakenly assume there is no way they could be poisoned.

But the reality is: most homes are at risk. And if you're not taking the proper steps to detect CO leaks, then you're putting your life (and your families' lives), in danger.

What is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

CO is a gas that is formed by an incomplete combustion of fuels. In simpler terms, CO can form when a material or substance is burned. CO molecules displace oxygen in human bodies, which results in poisoning (see symptoms below). The gas is odorless, colorless and has no taste, which is another reason why it's so dangerous: humans can't detect it.

Sources of Carbon Monoxide in the Home

The most common reasons for carbon monoxide poisoning in the home are issues related to heating systems and engines. However, CO can come from many different sources, including:The most common reasons for carbon monoxide poisoning in the home are issues related to heating systems and engines. However, CO can come from many different sources, including:

  • Gas stoves/overs
  • Furnaces
  • Boilers
  • Water heaters
  • Gas/wood fireplaces and stoves
  • Clothes dryers
  • Motor vehicles and lawn equipment

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
CO poisoning can be difficult to identify, but common early warning signs include:

  • Headache
  • Breathlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Loss of consciousness

These symptoms, if ignored, rapidly lead to loss of consciousness, which is the most common reason for fatality: being unable to escape after the gas has knocked you out.

How to reduce your risk

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors.
    Every home should have a working CO detector. Even better: if you have a Security Doctors Home Security System, your CO detector will be monitored 24 hours a day, just like your alarm system. So, if your CO detector goes off, our Central Station can send help to your home automatically – a life-saving response if you've been knocked unconscious while you were asleep or when nobody else was home. 

  • Maintain your fuel-burning appliances.
    Be sure to have your heating system and other fuel-burning appliances maintained once a year to ensure they are working properly.

  • Never let your car run in a closed / attached garage.
    The space must be well ventilated to prevent the risk of CO poisoning.

  • Don't use outdoor equipment inside.
    Barbecue grills, camp stoves, gas powered lawn equipment, portable generators, anything that involves burning or combustion. Each of these can emit CO.

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