(BPT) - Most homeowners recognize the importance of protecting their homes from fire. They do this by checking the batteries in their smoke alarms, completely extinguishing fires in their fireplaces and keeping flammable materials away from candles or space heaters. However, while fire safety is front and center, many homeowners overlook the ways they can protect their families from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
And that’s a mistake no homeowner can afford to make.
Census data shows most homes in the U.S. have either fuel-burning appliances or an attached garage, but only approximately half of all homes have a working CO alarm – the only safe way to detect this odorless, colorless and invisible threat. Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States; claiming more than 400 lives each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, more than 20,000 people visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to accidental CO poisoning annually.
Thankfully, protection can be as simple as applying these five tips.
- Seek professional help. One of the most common causes of CO poisoning is a filthy or inefficient heating system. Poorly maintained chimneys and flues can crack, causing ventilation problems and preventing CO from escaping up the chimney. Likewise, a faulty furnace could also emit CO into the home. Have your chimney or heating system cleaned and serviced by trained technicians annually to eliminate this risk.
- Add or upgrade your carbon monoxide alarm. Your CO alarms is just as important as your home’s smoke alarms, so make sure you have one and that it is working properly. Kidde Worry-Free carbon monoxide alarms have the longest life available in a CO alarm - 10 years - and come in both battery and hardwired power options. Each alarm contains a sealed-in lithium battery that last a decade providing homeowners with peace of mind knowing their alarms are always on. The Worry-Free Combination alarm offers warning of both fire and CO and includes a voice alert to clearly identify the hazard present. It also features a unique smart sensing technology to significantly reduce nuisance alarms.
- Keep the grill and generator outdoors. Using a grill or generator due to a power outage? Put on a jacket and go outside. Never bring the grill indoors or operate it or a generator in a space attached to your home such as a porch, patio or garage. Both can emit high levels of CO, and need plenty of ventilation. Even having the garage door open does not offer enough air flow to reduce CO levels.
- Use your indoor appliances properly. Only use appliances as they are designed by the manufacturer. For instance, never use gas appliances, like your range or oven, to heat in the house. This increases your risk of CO poisoning.
- Know the symptoms. CO symptoms mimic the flu without fever. Since winter is also peak flu season, know the difference. If you or a loved one is feeling confused or dizzy, or if he/she is suffering from headaches, nausea, sleepiness, vomiting or weakness, but has no fever, it may be a case of CO poisoning. Get the victim outside in fresh air and dial 911 immediately.
Carbon monoxide poisons thousands each year, but you can protect yourself and your family by employing the tips above. To learn more about how Kidde alarms can raise your family’s awareness of CO threats, visit www.KnowAboutCO.com.