Colder temperatures are here for the season, and like many homeowners, you may be relying on a furnace, gas fireplace, or wood stove to heat your home. These appliances are excellent sources of heat, but improper use or equipment malfunction can produce a dangerous gas known as carbon monoxide (CO).
Any amount of exposure to carbon monoxide can cause severe side effects and if undetected, can be fatal. Due to their smaller bodies, young children under five are especially susceptible to the effects of carbon monoxide and process the gas exposure differently than adults.
Side effects, such as nausea, headaches, and dizziness may be more severe in young children; however, symptoms often present themselves similar to the flu which can lead to lack of medical attention from parents who associate their child’s symptoms with a viral infection.
Know the Warning Signs
Each year, carbon monoxide claims more than 400 lives and is responsible for approximately 50,000 emergency room visits in the United States.
Carbon monoxide is created when any fuel source (wood, kerosene, natural gas, coal) is burned without the proper mixture of oxygen. Dubbed the “silent killer,” what makes it so dangerous is that you cannot see, taste, or smell it.
Although it is impossible to detect carbon monoxide on its own, there are a series of symptoms commonly displayed in individuals suffering from CO poisoning, including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chest pain
- Dizziness and weakness
If you suspect you or a family member have been exposed to carbon monoxide, call 911 or a local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
Prevention is Essential
To protect your home and family from carbon monoxide exposure, CO alarms should be installed on every level of your home, especially near bedrooms. You can purchase a CO alarm for less than $20 and each alarm lasts approximately seven years, although the CDC recommends replacing your alarms every 5 years.
Properly storing and operating gasoline-powered devices can greatly reduce the risk of carbon monoxide exposure. Any device that uses gasoline should be kept in a locked location that is inaccessible to children. Only small quantities of gasoline should be stored and should always be kept in child-resistant containers. In addition, gasoline-powered appliances and devices, such as snow-blowers and lawnmowers should never be used in enclosed spaces, like your garage.
If you have a working fireplace, make sure your chimney is inspected and cleaned once a year. Often times, chimneys can become blocked by debris and can lead to a buildup of carbon monoxide inside your home.
In the winter months, you may be used to warming up your vehicle as you head out the door each morning; however, never under any circumstance leave a vehicle running in the garage; even when the garage door is open, it’s possible for carbon monoxide to accumulate.
In addition, never let your engine warm up when you have passengers in your vehicle. Cold engines produce a greater concentration of carbon dioxide as the vehicle’s catalytic converter cannot properly convert carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide until it has been given time to warm up. Young children and elderly individuals are much more susceptible to even the smallest traces of carbon monoxide and may become ill from minimal exposure.
Although every effort should be made to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from occurring, it’s important to know what to do in case of an emergency. If a CO alarm goes off in any room of your house, quickly gather everyone in your home, immediately seek fresh air outside and call 911.
How We’re Helping Keep Kids Safe
At Child-Guard™, our main goal is to keep you organized and your little ones safe. Just like a CO alarm guards your family from exposure to dangerous gasses, our Child-Guard™ slider works with resealable flexible packaging to guard your children from accidental exposure to potentially harmful substances.
Our child-resistant closures are currently found on detergent packaging in the laundry aisle of your grocery store and will soon be making its way to more of your favorite household products.
What you would like to guard with our child-resistant slider? We want to know! Use the hashtag #guardit to tell us on Facebook and be sure to follow us for more child safety tips.