Carbon monoxide is also known as the silent killer. It can pose a serious threat and should be taken seriously.
- Move the car outside of the garage to warm up.
- Do not heat your home with a gas oven.
- Check furnaces and water heaters to make sure they are operating properly.
- Do not use unvented kerosene or gas space heaters indoors for long periods of time.
- Do not start or run gas powered appliances or lawnmowers in a garage or a shed.
- Have a carbon monoxide monitor installed to protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Act immediately if carbon monoxide symptoms appear.
An alarm purchased from a store will usually only warn you of a life threatening situation. Read the fine print - the device may offer little protection for children, the elderly, or persons with existing illnesses or CO sensitivity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide the following facts:
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death.
Where is CO found?
CO is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by cars and trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, and gas ranges and heating systems. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned by breathing it.
What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. High levels of CO inhalation can cause loss of consciousness and death. Unless suspected, CO poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other illnesses. People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms.
How does CO poisoning work?
Red blood cells pick up CO quicker than they pick up oxygen. If there is a lot of CO in the air, the body may replace oxygen in blood with CO. This blocks oxygen from getting into the body, which can damage tissues and result in death.
Who is at risk from CO poisoning?
All people and animals are at risk for CO poisoning. Certain groups — unborn babies, infants, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems — are more susceptible to its effects. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to CO poisoning. Fatality is highest among Americans 65 and older.
Because carbon monoxide is odourless and colourless it is not always evident when it has become a problem is the home. Often people who have a mild to moderate problem will find they feel sick while they spend time at home. They might feel a little better outside in the fresh air but will have re-occurring symptoms shortly after returning home. If other members of the family have re-occurring bouts with flu-like symptoms while fuel-burning appliances are being used it may be time to have the house checked by a professional.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Low levels of carbon monoxide poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning or other illnesses and can have a long term health risk if left unattended. Some of the symptoms are the following.
- Shortness of breath
- Mild nausea
- Mild headaches
Moderate levels of CO exposure can cause death if the following symptoms persist for a long measure of time.
High levels of CO can be fatal causing death within minutes.
There are immediate measures you can take to help those suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Get the victim into fresh air immediately.
- If you can not get the people out of the house, then open all windows and doors. Any combustion appliances should be turned off.
- Take those who were subjected to carbon monoxide to a hospital emergency room as quickly as possible. A simple blood test will be able to determine if carbon monoxide poisoning has occurred.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association dryers and washing machines were involved in one out of every 23 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments in 2003-2006.
Facts and figures
- In 2006, an estimated 17,700 reported U.S. non-confined or confined home structure fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines resulted in 15 civilian deaths, 360 civilian injuries and $194 million in direct property damage.
- Clothes dryers accounted for 92% of the fires; washing machines 4%, and washer and dryer combinations accounted for 3%.
- The leading cause of home clothes dryer and washer fires was failure to clean (29%), followed by unclassified mechanical failure or malfunction (24%). Thirteen percent were caused by some type of electrical failure or short circuit.
- Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional.
- Do not operate the dryer without a lint filter. Clean the lint filter before or after each use. Remove accumulated lint around the drum.
- Rigid or flexible metal venting material should be used to sustain proper air flow and drying time.
- Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe is not restricted and the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating. Once a year, or more often if you notice that it is taking longer than normal for your clothes to dry, clean lint out of the vent pipe or have a dryer lint removal service do it for you.
- Keep dryers in good working order. Gas dryers should be inspected by a professional to ensure that the gas line and connection are intact and free of leaks.
- Make sure the right plug and outlet are used and that the machine is connected properly.
- Avoid overloading a washing machine or dryer. Follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions.
- Do not leave a dryer running if you leave home or when you go to bed.
- Washing machines and dryers should be properly grounded.
- Make sure sure the outdoor vent flap is not covered by snow.
- Never dry items that have come in contact with flammable substances, such as cooking oil, gasoline, paint thinner, alcohol.
- Keep the dryer area clear of things that can burn, such as boxes or clothing.