As temperatures continue to fall outside, there’s no doubt you’re close to switching the heat on in your home, that’s if you haven’t already done so. However, it’s important to remember the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning when warming your home. We spoke with Eighteen21’s insurance expert, Jay Davis of Country Financial, about ways in which to keep your home and family safe from carbon monoxide this winter.
Quite simply, anything that burns fuel, such as a furnace, fireplace, generator, or gas appliance produces the toxic by-product known as carbon monoxide. Inhaling carbon monoxide can cause serious health issues from headaches to nausea to chest pains – even death. However, if well maintained, carbon monoxide, free of color and odor, can be effectively dispersed from your home.
Keep your vents clean
After a storm, make sure there is nothing obstructing the outside stack or vent for your dryer, stove, furnace or fireplace.
Schedule regular maintenance
Always invest in having a qualified technician install your fuel-burning devices and set up the appropriate venting system. In addition, have a professional inspect your heating system, water heater, and any other fuel-burning appliances to make sure they continue to operate safely, at least once a year.
The following are potential indicators that appliances, or alternate sources of heat, are faulty:
• Soot falling from your fireplace or appliances
• Rust or water streaks on vents
• Loose or disconnected vent pipes
• Moisture on the windows
• Cracked or crumbling masonry on your chimney
Keep your fireplace ventilated
If you have a wood-burning fireplace ensure you have the chimney professionally cleaned, each winter, and check that the flue is working properly.
Avoid using emergency generators in your garage or basement, instead put them outside and at least 20 feet from windows and doors.
Do not use a space heater while you are sleeping. If you do use a space heater in the day, make sure there is airflow in and out of the room. Do not try to use a gas oven as a source of heat.
Charcoal grills and portable camp stoves
Charcoal grills and portable camp stoves are for outdoor use only.
Install plenty of carbon monoxide detectors in your home
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, every home in the state is required by law to have at least one carbon monoxide alarm in an operating condition within 15 feet of every room used for sleeping purposes – as of January 1, 2007.
Some carbon monoxide detectors can be interconnected across your home so that when one detects an issue, all will sound the alarm. In the instance carbon monoxide is detected in your home, go outdoors and call 911.
Maintain your carbon monoxide alarms
Be sure to maintain your carbon monoxide alarms. Many are equipped with a backup battery in case the power goes out. Of course, you will need to change the batteries as per the manufacturer's guidelines, as you would with smoke detectors. It doesn’t hurt to keep a supply of batteries to hand.