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We all know that where there’s smoke, there’s fire, which is why smoke detectors are so important. But did you know that a carbon monoxide (CO) detector can save your life too? Unlike smoke detectors, CO detectors can literally ‘smell’ the odorless poison and warn you to get out of your home before it’s too late.
Tragically, one family just outside Washington, DC wasn’t so lucky. The victims succumbed to the poison that leaked into their home from rusted exhaust pipes on a natural gas furnace. Most people think of heating dangers, but not the dangers that gas stoves, hot water heaters, and other gas appliances can pose.
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that can’t be seen, smelled or tasted, and can even be fatal. These fumes can come from furnaces or water heaters can find their way into your home when these appliances that are not properly working or have a blocked exhaust system. More than 500 people in the United States die from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning each year.
HUD’s Office Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control (OHHLHC) offers the following tips and pointers on how to keep your family safe from CO danger:
- Never run your car in a closed garage.
- Make sure fuel burning appliances are installed by a professional and that they are working properly.
- Choose vented appliances when possible.
- Never use a gas range or oven to heat your home.
- Have your heating system and chimneys inspected each year.
- During winter months check frequently that vents, flues and chimneys are not blocked by snow or ice.
- Replace dirty air filters on heating and cooling systems.
- Never run a generator, power washer, or any diesel or gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage or other enclosed structure.
- Keep your home well ventilated – Install ventilation for indoor combustion appliances and consider installing air exchanges or air conditioning if your home is tightly sealed.
- Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, or camping lantern or portable stove inside your home, tent or camper.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms.
- Talk to your doctor or local health department if you suspect that you, or a family member, might be suffering from carbon monoxide fumes.
- Call your local building or code enforcement agency if you have concerns about the combustion appliances in your home.
You can purchase a CO detector from your local hardware store for about $25 or you can contact your local fire department for more information about these important devices that can save lives.