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The Invisible Killer, Carbon Monoxide

Potential Sources of CO

Potential Sources of CO

Pro Energy Consultants is nationally embarking on a month-long "Breathe Green & Easy" campaign focused on increasing indoor air quality awareness to consumers and communities educating them on how it can help their home's efficiency as well as make their home a safer environment.

We can’t see or smell carbon monoxide but at high levels it is deadly and it can kill a person in literally minutes, states Jerry Needham of Pro Energy Consultants of Geneva. Hundreds of people die accidentally every year from CO poisoning due to malfunctioning or improperly used fuel burning appliances and even from idling cars. Those at risk most are fetuses, infants, and elderly people with anemia or a history of heart or respiratory disease. Carbon Monoxide is produced when any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. Appliances that burn fuel should be maintained and used properly. The amount of CO produced by a well maintained appliance is usually not hazardous. Why not be safe and practice the DO's and Don'ts of carbon monoxide.
Do know the symptoms. At moderate levels you can get a severe headache, become dizzy, mentally confused, nauseated or possibly faint. If moderate levels persist long enough, it can cause death.
At low levels, symptoms such as shortness of breath, mild nausea and mild headaches can occur but your health is affected from longer term exposure.
Since many of these symptoms are similar to those of the flu, food poisoning, or other illnesses, you may not think CO poisoning could be the cause. BUT PLAY IT SAFE and do get fresh air immediately, open doors and windows, turn off combustion appliances and leave the house.
Do go to an Emergency room and tell the physician you suspect CO poisoning. A blood test soon after exposure can reveal exposure.
Do be prepared to answer the following questions:
Do the symptoms occur only while in the house? Do they disappear or decrease when you leave home? Or reappear when you return home?
Is anyone else in your household complaining of the same symptoms, and did everyone’s symptoms appear about the same time?
Are you using any fuel burning appliances in the home?
Has anyone inspected your appliances lately and are you certain they are working properly?
Prevention is the key to avoiding CO poisoning, do have these appliances inspected by a trained professional at the beginning of every heating season: Oil and gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas ranges and ovens, gas dryers, gas or kerosene space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves. Make certain flues and chimneys are connected and in good condition and NOT blocked.
Do choose appliances that vent their fumes to the outside; have them properly installed, and maintain them according to manufactures’ recommendations.
Do read and follow all instructions that accompany any fuel burning device. Use the proper fuel and keep doors to the house open, and crack a window to ensure enough air for ventilation if you must use a an unvented gas or kerosene space heater.
Don’t let a car idle in a garage even if the garage door to the outside is open. Fumes can build up quickly in the garage and in the living area of your home.
Don’t use a gas oven to heat your home. Not even for a short time.
Don’t ever use a charcoal grill indoors and not EVEN in the fireplace.
Don’t sleep in any room with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater.
Don’t use any gasoline powered engines in enclosed spaces such as mowers, weed trimmers, snow blowers, chain saws, or generators.
Don’t ignore the symptoms, especially if more than one person is feeling them.
A few words about CO detectors:
CO detectors are widely available in stores. You may want to consider buying one as a backup, but remember, it’s not a replacement for proper use and maintenance of appliances. It is important to know that the technology of CO detectors are still being developed
Don’t let buying a CO detector lull you into a false sense of security. Preventing CO from becoming a problem in your home is BETTER than relying on an alarm.
For more information on how to reduce your risks from CO and other combustion gases and particles contact Jerry Needham at 630-770-4994 or email jneedham@proenergyconsultants.com

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