Carbon Monoxide

Fireplaces and gas clothes dryers are necessary appliances found in homes throughout the United States. These appliances come with threats, though. Under the right conditions, both fireplaces and gas dryers can produce the deadly vapor known as carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas, is formed in the incomplete combustion of organic substances, such as those used in fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. It is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it is undetectable to the human senses and, in large enough concentrations, takes only minutes to be deadly. In order to protect yourself and your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, it`s crucial to learn the facts about it and what you can do to prevent it in your home.


Detecting Carbon Monoxide Early

The symptoms of carbon monoxide aren`t unusual from those of other illnesses, and sometimes closely resemble food poisoning, which makes it all the more dangerous. Regular occurrence of the common symptoms is a red flag that could indicate carbon monoxide is present in your home. Headache, dizziness, nausea and chest pain are some of the most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you or your family members are experiencing any of these symptoms in your home, and then noticing that they go away as soon as you leave, it could be a sign that there is an increased concentration of carbon monoxide at play.  Symptoms don`t always appear at the first sign of carbon monoxide, however. They can show up after a person has been exposed to lower levels of the dangerous fumes for an extended period of time, often resulting in long-term health problems.


Sources of Carbon Monoxide

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 170 people die each year from carbon monoxide produced by malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances, including fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.  Fuel-burning appliances are common culprits when it comes to carbon monoxide poisonings.  In order to protect your family and home, it`s important to make sure your fireplace or wood-burning stove is properly vented and maintained.  The National Fire Protection Association recommends that you have your chimney and fireplace or wood-burning stove inspected and cleaned at least once a year to check for damages or venting problems.

Here are a few signs  to look out for:

- Streaks of soot around the fireplace or wood-burning stove.

- Excess moisture on windows, walls and other cold surfaces

-  Orange or yellow flames, rather than blue, when you light a fire

- Damaged or discolored bricks at the top of the chimney

- Clothes dryers pose a threat, as well, thanks to the exhaust system built into them.

- Vents connected to gas dryers can produce carbon monoxide if they are obstructed or damaged, and the vapor will be trapped inside your home.


Ways to Protect your Home

One of the easiest ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is to install carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home.  These will alert you when there is an elevated concentration of the dangerous gas so that you and your loved ones can get to safety before it`s too late.  Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the biggest dangers that can come from your fireplace or gas dryer.  Keeping your family safe from harm can be as simple as installing and maintaining an alarm or regularly inspecting your appliances for dangerous conditions.  Don`t wait until it`s too late; learn the facts about carbon monoxide today.