Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a naturally occurring gas. Too much CO, however, can lead to CO poisoning, a common and preventable danger that kills about 200 people in the United States each year. In this blog, we’ll cover where carbon monoxide comes from, why it’s dangerous and whether you’re required to have a CO detector installed in your Central Illinois home.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
First, let’s explain what carbon monoxide is. When something burns fossil fuels, it produces the gas, carbon monoxide. Examples of fossil fuels are gasoline, wood, charcoal and propane. Sources of production include oil and gas furnaces, automobiles, gas-fueled generators, grills and gas fireplaces, among others. The gas is odorless, colorless and accumulates quickly in tightly sealed or enclosed spaces.
Why is Carbon Monoxide Dangerous?
When carbon monoxide rises to high levels in a home, it can make occupants ill. In extreme levels, CO poisoning is lethal. Unlike smoke, it does not rise. When CO accumulates in the air you breathe, your body replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with CO. This prevents oxygen from reaching your tissues and organs.
Symptoms, in many cases, do not draw much attention because they’re similar to the flu. Also, poisoning often occurs quickly, as many victims don’t realize it or sleep through it.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
There are several symptoms of CO poisoning, including:
- Blurred vision
- Dull headache
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath and
- Loss of consciousness
Based on these symptoms, it’s easy to imagine why some people might dismiss CO for influenza or an ordinary virus.
Am I Required to Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector in My Home?
If you are a homeowner, landlord or building owner in the state of Illinois, you are required to install carbon monoxide detectors within 15 feet of rooms that are used for sleeping, according to The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal. The fire marshal’s office states that the law applies to occupancies that use fossil fuel to cook, heat or produce hot water. It also applies to occupied sleeping areas that are connected to an enclosed garage.
- Place within 15 feet of any room that is used for sleeping
- Install CO detectors low on the wall, about five feet above the floor. This is to match the approximate height of your head while sleeping.
- Keep them away from the garage, kitchen or in a room with a furnace
- Make sure to test them regularly to ensure the battery or power source is working
If you have more questions about installing carbon monoxide detectors or want one of our technicians to install them for you, contact MB Heating & Cooling.
To prevent CO in your living spaces, take precautions such as regular inspections of your gas furnace. The team at MB provides these as well with tune ups. Over time, cracks can develop in the heat exchanger in your furnace. Other factors accelerate crack formation, such as a lack of maintenance or a stressed system.
Routine maintenance includes a thorough inspection and can address issues that contribute to premature cracks.
Use Appliances Properly
Use fuel-burning appliances as recommended. Never heat your home with a gas stove or oven. Only use portable camp stoves outdoors. Do not use fuel-burning space heaters unless someone is awake to monitor them. Also, do not run a generator in an enclosed space, like a basement or garage. Same goes for grills.
In our climate, it’s easy to assume it’s OK to pull a grill into the garage during a rain shower. Do not cook with it in an enclosed space either. When using any of these portable or alternative fuel devices, do so outdoors or with plenty of ventilation, including open doors and windows.
Contact MB Heating & Cooling to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Dangers
If you’re a homeowner in Springfield, Illinois, or the surrounding areas, MB is available for your air quality and HVAC needs. We care about your health and safety as well as your comfort. Contact MB today to schedule service.