Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas responsible for more than 450 deaths and 20,000 emergency room visits a year in the United States. Thousands of Colorado residents get sick from exposure to the poisonous gas every year and many never know it’s to blame for their headaches, nausea and illnesses.
What is carbon monoxide?
CO is produced when anything burns. It’s an expected byproduct of things like vehicles and charcoal grills, which is why it’s never recommended to use either of those things in enclosed areas. Appliances like gas stoves, water heaters, and furnaces can develop problems that will result in CO production and fill your home with the gas. Even cigarettes and incense produce carbon monoxide.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:
CO poisoning often seems like the flu. Exposure to the gas in your home can cause you to feel overly tired, get severe headaches, become nauseated, vomit and/or faint. If multiple people in your home begin displaying these symptoms at the same time, get out of the house. Seniors and children are at even greater risk. If the symptoms subside, you most likely have a CO problem. Do not go back into the house.
Colorado law requires all homes with gas furnaces or appliances or attached garages that have been sold or rented after July 1, 2009 to be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. There should be at least one detector on each level of the home and within 15 feet of all sleeping rooms.
The detectors will sound an alarm when there are high levels of the dangerous gas present.
What to do if you have CO in your home:
If you and your family have symptoms of CO poisoning, or your CO detector alarm sounds, get out of the house immediately and call for help from emergency responders. The gas is just as dangerous as fire, and emergency responders treat it seriously. They will look for the source of the gas and help you to make your home safe to re-enter.
Keeping your appliances in good repair can help you to avoid issues with carbon monoxide. Change your furnace filter regularly.
If you have an aging furnace or other gas-powered appliances, contact the Energy Resource Center and let the staff know you’re concerned about carbon monoxide. Safety concerns are a priority for our home energy audits. We will evaluate your home for free if you are income-qualified and we will make permanent home improvements – most for free – in order to reduce your utility bill and make your home safer.
Never use your gas stove, range or a grill to heat your home – and be extremely careful with gas-powered space heaters.
Contact the Energy Resource Center today for more information about carbon monoxide and staying safe in your Colorado home.