Our homes are full of carbon monoxide sources. Yet we need them to heat our homes, our water and our food.
Here’s how to safely operate the most common carbon monoxide culprits in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Have your water heater, heating system and any other appliances that burn coal, gas or oil serviced by a certified technician every year. This will ensure they operate efficiently without producing any unnecessary carbon monoxide emissions.
- Avoid using generators, camp stoves, grills or other similar devices in your home. These tools belong outside where the breeze can dissipate the carbon monoxide.
- Never heat your home by opening your gas oven.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Choose one that is either battery powered or has a battery backup to ensure your family is protected even in the event of a power outage. If your detector does go off, get out immediately and then dial 911. (Learn even more about CO detectors in the next post.)
- Always open the flue when using your fireplace and make sure it is cleaned once a year.
Preventing CO poisoning outside your home
CO risks exist outside your home, too. When you step outside, keep the following safety practices in mind.
- Never leave your car running in an enclosed area such as a garage. Instead, make sure the garage door is open to keep things ventilated. The best practice is to move the car out of the garage immediately.
- Avoid paint removers with methylene chloride—this chemical easily converts to carbon monoxide if you breathe in the fumes.
- Have a mechanic inspect your vehicle’s exhaust system. A small leak can put you and others at risk of CO poisoning.
- When on a boat, don't sit or swim near the areas of the boat where exhaust is vented.
- Never block your boat’s exhaust outlets and always park at least 20 feet away from any boat that is idling.
A carbon monoxide detector is essential to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Learn how to choose one in the final post.