Hundreds of people die from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning each year. These poisonous CO fumes are released when fuels don’t burn completely. Carbon monoxide detectors can alert residents of the presence of this odorless hazard. Many types of fuel contribute to making this deadly gas indoors, including natural gas, wood, coal, oil, and kerosene.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Symptoms

The symptoms of CO poisoning replicate those associated with the flu, so many victims die because they don’t realize they’re suffering from something much more serious. Even doctors mistakenly diagnose nausea, exhaustion, dizziness, breathing difficulty, and headaches as the flu rather than CO gas exposure. Using carbon monoxide detectors takes away the guesswork. Detectors measure the amount of CO gas in a room and sound an alarm when the level becomes dangerously high.

Furnaces and Carbon Monoxide

Today’s construction efficiency often results in homes that are too tightly sealed, preventing bad air containing CO from escaping the home. Furnaces may sometimes malfunction, causing carbon monoxide to circulate through the vent system. It may save your life to have your heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) checked out each year by a specialist. Some things to inspect include:

  • all connections to pipes and vents;
  • the filtering system (clean and change as needed);
  • the combustion chamber and exchanger (clean and look for cracks and leaks);
  • the CO levels in the HVAC systems;
  • ignition (does your system ignite properly?)

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that all homeowners install carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms and near hallways. They urge consumers to buy products with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) rating of 2034 and carefully follow installation directions. There are a number of detectors made by manufacturers such as Kidde, Firex, and First Alert. They come in battery-operated or wall plug-in models. In order to choose a model that will best meet your needs, be sure to do some research and compare products.

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