Do You Have a Carbon Monoxide Leak in Your Home?

by Editor on August 22, 2013

Three-dimensional view of ALMA observations of the outflows from NGC 253

In the mines – the coalmines that is – miners would bring a canary down into the darkness with them as they chipped away at the walls with their picks. The canary chirping all the while – but if the canary stopped chirping it was time to get out – immediately. A silent canary meant that there were dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, which is where we get the term “canary in the coalmine.” Yet, today’s “canary in the coalmine” is a little different. Testing carbon monoxide, a deadly, odorless gas, can be done in a number of different ways. So, do you have a carbon monoxide leak in your home?

Your first step is to understand the dangers of carbon monoxide. Many people become victims because they simply don’t know what the dangers are. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless and tasteless, which is why they call it “the invisible killer.” The sources of carbon monoxide include car exhaust, gas ovens, wood fireplaces and stoves, heaters and furnaces. Oftentimes, people have let their heater run with the pilot blown out and succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning.

On top of knowing what some of the carbon monoxide sources are, it is also important to know what the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are. In some cases, carbon monoxide poisoning might be slight enough to where the symptoms are minor, but over time they can become more severe. You might feel dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness, confusion and fatigue. If you feel immediately better when you open your windows or leave your house, there is a pretty high chance that you have higher than usual levels of carbon monoxide in your home. If you are feeling any of these symptoms, it is recommended to visit a healthcare professional.

It is also important to regularly test your indoor air quality. One of the best ways to test the air for concentrations of carbon monoxide is to install a detector. There are many carbon monoxide detectors that set off an alarm when it detects the poisonous gas. Most of the detectors look just like a smoke alarm and they are easy to install. You only need to install one in your home – typically in the kitchen – and one in the garage. If you have a two-story home, you might want to install one on the second level as well – just to be safe.

Lastly, you want to avoid the common mistakes. For instance, don’t leave your car running in the garage while you are in it – turn off the engine as soon as the garage door closes. Too many people have become victims to carbon monoxide poisoning by simply coming home and sitting in their vehicles until it was too late. You should also never fire up a charcoal grill inside the home. Also, you always want to get your fireplace checked before you start a fire – just to make sure there are no blockages. The last thing you want is to start a fire in your fireplace and inadvertently cause carbon monoxide to spread throughout your home. Carbon monoxide is a real danger, and not being aware is one of the easiest ways to become a victim.

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