Keep Your Family Safe This Season By Knowing How To Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Photo by David Stahl via Flickr

Photo by David Stahl via Flickr

With the coming of cooler weather also comes the increased use of radiators and other appliances as well as the increased necessity of familiarizing yourself with some carbon monoxide (CO) safety tips.

In a press release addressed to Brooklyn residents, National Grid urged customers to proactively check furnaces, install fire alarms and CO detectors and take other steps to ensure your home is safe.

First, be sure to remind yourself of the basics:

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless gas that can be deadly if left undetected. When fuels such as natural gas, butane, propane, wood, coal, heating oil, kerosene and gasoline don’t burn completely, they can release carbon monoxide into the air. Common sources of carbon monoxide include malfunctioning forced-air furnaces, kerosene space heaters, natural gas ranges, wood stoves, fireplaces and motor vehicle engines. During the heating season, windows and doors tend to remain tightly shut, sealing out fresh air. This creates the potential for carbon monoxide to build up over time.

According to National Grid, signs of a carbon monoxide leak include

  • Very stuffy, stale air
  • Condensation on the inside of windows
  • Exhibiting symptoms of poisoning

How do you know if you have carbon monoxide poisoning? Symptoms are similar to those of the flu, and could include headaches, weakness, confusion, chest tightness, skin redness, dizziness, nausea, sleepiness, fluttering of the heart or loss of muscle control, according to a press release from National Grid.

If you believe you have unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide in your home, be sure to take the following steps.

1) Leave your home immediately.
2) Call 911.
3) Call National Grid’s emergency contact number, (718) 643-4050.

Further tips recommended by National Grid include:

  • Install government-approved home carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home.
  • Schedule a licensed, professional heating contractor to annually check your heating system. It’s not too late to call for this season, if you haven’t already done so.
  • Check chimneys or flues for debris, bird nests, or other blockages and have them cleaned periodically.
  • Be sure space heaters and wood stoves are in good condition, have adequate ventilation and are used in strict compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Never use a gas range for heating, or burn coal or charcoal in an enclosed space.
  • If you use a back-up generator to supply power during an outage, always be sure to operate it outdoors.
  • Be mindful that early snowfalls could block vents for furnaces or hot-water heaters causing CO to back up into a building, resulting in carbon monoxide poisoning for those inside.
  • Know that open windows do not provide sufficient ventilation to safely operate a generator indoors.

Unfortunately, Brooklyn has seen multiple carbon monoxide-related deaths in past years.

In January, a Sunset Park man was found dead in his car, likely from carbon monoxide after the exhaust pipe became blocked by snow, according to DNAinfo.

Last summer, a 55-year-old Borough Park resident died in her basement apartment, apparently, “overcome by carbon monoxide fumes,” after a boiler’s exhaust pipe burst.

However, these tragic incidents are far from the norm, and if you take the necessary precautions and stay alert it is highly unlikely you will be affected by carbon monoxide.

Stay warm and safe!

About Author