There are plenty of experts who espouse the virtues of making the home more resistant to changes in the weather. This involves keeping the warmth in and the cold out. One of the benefits that convince people to invest in making their properties more weatherproof is the promise of saving money by reducing energy consumption.
However, there is a danger that homeowners should be aware of when making their properties too airtight. This is the problem of sealing in carbon monoxide within the inhabited area. Carbon monoxide is kind of gas that can lead to illness and even death when inhaled. Being odorless, it is possible that its presence can go undetected.
There are various signs that can signal the presence of carbon monoxide in the house. Although difficult to detect, homes that have carbon dioxide may smell a bit stale. Also, if there is condensation in the windows that cannot be explained, it can mean that there is a problem with the carbon monoxide problems. A good way to gauge if there is carbon monoxide, check the stove when it is on to see if instead of a blue flame, you get a yellow one when you turn it on. If the pilot light in the furnace is constantly being extinguished, it can also be indicative of the same thing. The most efficient way of knowing whether or not there is carbon monoxide is to invest in a carbon monoxide detector.
When the home is too airtight, carbon monoxide can contaminate the air. Houses need to breathe as well and making them too weatherproof can keep the air from circulating properly. Ventilation is the key to keep carbon monoxide from harming you and your family.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
People may experience feeling sick if they spend too much time at home if there is a problem with carbon monoxide. If they get some fresh air, they may feel slightly better but the symptoms can recur if they return home again. If other family members report the same flu-like symptoms, then it is best to have the property checked by a professional.
Those who have been exposed to low amounts of carbon monoxide may confuse the symptoms with the flu or food poisoning. Some of the symptoms include difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath, nausea, and mild headaches. If the exposure gets more prolonged or the carbon monoxide levels get higher, the symptoms may increase in intensity. Light-headedness may also be experienced. It is important to pay attention to the symptoms because death can occur within minutes if exposed to high mounts of carbon monoxide.
If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, there are some immediate steps that you can take in order to lessen the effects. The most helpful move that you can do is to bring the victim outside of the home in order to get some fresh air. If this is not possible, increase the ventilation in the property by opening the doors and windows. Turn off all combustible household appliances in order to prevent fires and explosions from happening.
Call for an ambulance or bring the victim to the emergency room as soon as possible. Take note that death is possible if the carbon monoxide poisoning is not alleviated. Doctors often administer a blood test to the victim to check if carbon monoxide is the true cause of the symptoms.
Every home that makes use of combustion, such as those with stoves and fireplaces, are prone to carbon monoxide poisoning. This description basically applies to every modern household so it is important to be vigilant in order to have good air quality control in the home. To prevent having high levels of carbon monoxide in the property, there are some measures that owners can take in order to keep inhabitants safe.
Most of the steps needed to lessen the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning are quite simple and easy to implement. First, install a carbon monoxide detector in the home to keep an eye on the levels found in the home. Flue and chimneys should also be cleared of any blockages to ensure that the smoke can be safely channeled away from the home.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is most common during the winter or rainy months. The reason for this is that this is the time when most people make use of their fireplaces and heating equipment, which can emit the carbon monoxide. Before this time, make sure that trained professionals come in the home and check burning appliances to make sure that everything is in proper order. Some of the devices that need to be inspected are furnaces, heaters, stoves and ovens, gas dryers and kerosene heaters. Finally, make sure to check fireplaces and wood stoves as well.
In installing any combustion-based appliance in the home, make sure that you install these items following the directions of the manufacturer. If you are unsure of your ability to install them properly, then call a professional to do the job for you. The reason why this step is quite important is that improperly installed items have a higher risk of malfunctioning and spewing carbon monoxide within the property.
One of the most common culprits of carbon monoxide poisoning is keeping the car idling in the garage. It does not matter whether or not the garage door is closed. Fumes can easily build up and spread to other parts of the property. The air that gets contaminated will not necessarily be confined in one portion of the house so it is best to play it safe and turn off the car while it is parked in the home.
Also, cooking appliances should be used the way they were intended to be. Refrain from using gas ovens to heat up the home, even if it is only for a short time. Charcoal grills should only be used in the outdoors. When charcoal burns, carbon monoxide is released. Using it indoors deprives it of the proper ventilation that can diffuse the fumes safely.
The same principle applies when using gas or kerosene heaters as well as gas-powered engines such as generators or mowers. There should be enough ventilation so that the fumes that are emitted do not reach such concentrated levels that they pose a danger to the inhabitants of the place.
Using Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide detectors deserve special mention when it comes to the issue of air quality control. These are devices that should complement the use of fuel-burning appliances in the home. They are used to keep watch over the amount of carbon monoxide in a particular space. Take note, however, that these just constitute the first step in keeping the home safe from excessive amounts of carbon monoxide. Trained professionals still need to come into the property and make assessments on the safety of the home in terms of the quality of the air.
It is actually not unusual to have some amounts of carbon monoxide in the home. Generally, homes that do not have gas stoves have about 0.5 to 5 parts per million (ppm) of carbon monoxide. These are still considered safe for the inhabitants. If the home has a gas stove that is properly adjusted, then the levels rise to about 5 to 15 ppm. These levels are also considered as acceptable. However, if the stoves have not been properly adjusted or are malfunctioning, then the levels of carbon monoxide can rise up to 30 ppm or even higher, which should be a source of concern for the homeowner.
Carbon monoxide detectors should be properly installed in strategic locations in the home. They should not be placed near the source of a gas or fuel appliance because it may give a false reading. Regularly test the detector, at least once a month, to see if it is working properly. Batteries should also be changed when they are already weak. Finally, take note that carbon monoxide detectors are not meant to last a lifetime. Even if there seems to be no indication of a problem, it is best to replace them every two years to ensure optimal performance. In choosing a carbon monoxide detector, purchase one that has a low-level indicator because it is the safer alternative. It is more sensitive to any fluctuations in the levels of carbon monoxide.
If there is carbon monoxide-related emergency, resist the urge to panic as this will only impede solutions. If the carbon monoxide detector goes off, turn off any appliance that makes use of fuel. Refrain from using them until they have been checked and cleared by a trained technician. Evacuate the property immediately to ensure that no one gets symptomatic. If someone is already experiencing symptoms, then have them checked by the doctor as soon as possible. Do not delay is seeking medical attention because death can come quickly if the carbon monoxide poisoning is severe.
When everyone is out of the house, go to a neighbor’s home and use their phone to contact the fire department. Do not use the phone found in your property because you may expose yourself to carbon monoxide and end up poisoning yourself. Do not enter the premises until the professionals say that it is safe to go back inside.