A carbon monoxide leak can be hazardous to everyone in your home. Learn about carbon monoxide and what you can do to prevent any issues.
Carbon monoxide, or “CO,” is an odorless, colorless gas that can give you poisoning or even kill you.
CO is found in fumes that are produced when you burn fuel in gas ranges, furnaces, grills, fireplaces, stoves, lanterns, cars or trucks, and small engines. In closed spaces like your home, CO builds up and can poison people and animals who breathe it in the same area.
CO poisoning symptoms are:
The symptoms are described as “flu-like.” Depending on how much you breathe in, a lot of CO can make you pass out or even kill you. If there is a CO leak and someone is sleeping, they can die from CO poisoning before they even experience symptoms.
Unfortunately, everyone is at risk for CO poisoning. Elderly, infants, people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or breathing problems are more likely to get sick from CO. Over 400 Americans each year die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires. Over 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized.
A CO leak can come from:
For maximum protection, it is highly recommended to have a CO detector on every floor. CO detectors give the most accurate reading when they are placed five feet from the ground. Definitely near every sleeping area. Usually those gasses are carried out of your home, but if something goes wrong, a CO leak can be life-threatening to your family.
The EPA has a range of common thresholds of carbon monoxide. It ultimately comes down to your age, size, and health. Here are the common thresholds:
For homes without gas stoves or other gas appliances, this is an usual range.
Ranges below 70 ppm for short periods most people have no ill effects. Dizziness and headaches at prolonged exposure (6-8) hours.
When exposed for 2 hours or longer can cause a slight headache.
Often leads to disorientation and unconsciousness and can also lead to death with prolonged exposure at these levels.
Carbon monoxide devices work like your smoke or fire alarms. They alert you when it detects a dangerous amount of carbon monoxide in your home with a warning. Prolonged exposure to low levels of CO can be as hazardous as short amount of exposure to high levels. The CO alarms and detectors only tell you about the dangerously high levels.
A carbon monoxide monitor is different because it actively monitors the amount of carbon monoxide in your air and gives you a digital readout. The monitor informs you when there are higher than usual amounts of CO in your home, even if they aren’t at what other alarms deem a “dangerous” level.