While Pioneer installs CO detectors in every home, the EPA warns us to not let CO detectors lull us into a false sense of security. The detectors should be considered as a backup to proper use and maintenance of fuel-burning appliances. Proper use, care and maintenance of your fuel-burning systems is imperative in the prevention of CO poisonings. Aside from having your fuel systems inspected regularly, ensure appliances are adjusted properly, verify chimney flues are open when the fireplace is in use, make sure that interior fuel-burning appliances are in good condition, and keep portable generators outdoors and far away from the home. Remember, no matter how cold it is, never use a gas oven to heat a home!
Some symptoms of low-level CO poisoning are not necessarily easy to spot, but include a mild headache and breathlessness. Continued exposure can result in flu-like symptoms, including severe headaches, dizziness, lethargy, nausea, confusion, irritability, and impaired judgment, memory and coordination. CO poisoning is called the “silent killer” because people frequently decide to “sleep it off” and never wake up.
The EPA identifies these ways to distinguish between the flu and CO poisoning:
*You feel better when you are away from your home (or location where you are getting the poisoning);
*More than one person in your home is sick at the same time (the flu has a gestation period that usually prevents everyone in a household from getting sick simultaneously);
*Family members who are most affected spend most of their time at home;
*Symptoms occur or get worse shortly after turning on a fuel-burning device;
*Indoor pets also appear ill
*Another difference is that the flu may generate generalized aching, low-grade fever and swollen lymph nodes which you should not get with CO poisoning.
The EPA has developed an acronym, I CAN B, to help us remember CO safety:
Install CO alarms near sleeping areas.
Check heating systems and fuel-burning appliances annually.
Avoid the use of non-vented combustion appliances.
Never burn fuels indoors except in devices such as stoves or furnaces that are made for safe use.
Be attentive to possible symptoms of CO poisoning.
If you suspect CO poisoning, take action right away and:
*Get fresh air immediately
*Go to an emergency room and tell the physician you suspect CO poisoning
Don’t let yourself or your family become a CO poisoning victim!
For more information, follow this link to the EPA’s website: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/co.html