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An Internal Threat: Understanding Carbon Monoxide and Ways to Prevent Poisoning

Nov 30, 2016 by Luke Ries

An Internal Threat

There’s a lot to worry about in our daily lives, but how often do we think about our own home being a potential source of harm? Unfortunately, it may be something you want to consider immediately – all because of a poisonous gas called carbon monoxide, also known as “the silent killer.”

Carbon monoxide fumes are generated by incomplete combustion, from a wide range of potential fuel-burning sources, such as furnaces, chimneys, generators, space heaters, and motor vehicle exhaust. Once these fumes – which are odorless, colorless and invisible – collect in a given space, those in close proximity are at risk of being poisoned, as CO prevents the body’s ability to carry oxygen. Inhaling even small amounts of CO can cause flu-like symptoms and nausea, whereas mild and extensive exposure can lead to unconsciousness, brain damage, and even death. In fact, it’s estimated that there are nearly 430 deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning each year.

So how exactly does one fight this enemy that can’t be seen? Fortunately, there are a few preventive measures that you and your aging loved ones can take to minimize the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Install carbon monoxide monitors
    • Ensure they are placed on all floors of the home, especially in bedrooms, main hallways, and within fifteen feet of any fuel-burning appliances
    • Use the test/reset buttons to test monitors on a regular basis
       
  • Ensure that all fuel-burning appliances are professionally installed
     
  • Have chimneys, furnaces, and heating systems inspected at least annually
     
  • Don’t use gas appliances, such as stoves and portable grills, to heat a home
     
  • Don’t leave a motor vehicle running idle in the garage (Even if you’re not in the garage while it’s running, CO fumes can leak into adjoining rooms)
     
  • Don’t run generators or gasoline-powered equipment in a garage, basement, or other enclosed area in the in home
     
  • If you experience any symptoms of CO poisoning, make your way outside and contact 911 right away
     

Carbon monoxide poisoning can come in an instant, without warning or much indication, and it doesn’t take much to be life-threatening. But that doesn’t mean you or your loved ones have to live in fear. Put the steps above into action to stay safe and out of harm’s way.

Comfort Keepers® Can Help

Comfort Keepers’ compassionate, professional, in-home caregivers can also help your aging loved ones. Whether they require around-the-clock care or just a few hours of companionship throughout the week, we are ready to make a difference in their lives.

For more information about our caregiving services in Sheboygan and Fond du Lac, give us a call at (920) 204-6886 or contact us here. We look forward to hearing from you!

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