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Always stay safe and aware around carbon monoxide

By NICHOLAS SAKELARIS | CoServ

There's a reason gas ovens, stoves and hot water heaters have built-in exhaust systems – to safely remove carbon monoxide from your home.

Using these appliances improperly or bringing something intended for outdoor use inside your home, such as a gas or diesel-powered generator, could cause a buildup of carbon monoxide – and the results can be deadly.

Unfortunately, cases of people trying to find creative ways to stay warm during the winter, such as leaving a gas oven open or bringing a grill inside, often lead to death or serious injury.

Carbon monoxide is called the silent killer because it’s odorless and tasteless. It’s created when there’s an incomplete combustion of fuel. The molecules attach to the hemoglobin in your blood and, over extended periods, the blood can no longer carry oxygen throughout the body, causing asphyxiation.

“Anytime you’re burning fuel, if it doesn’t meet the right requirements to make it combustible, it’s going to let some carbon monoxide off,” said CoServ Gas Job Training & Safety Specialist Eric Maray. “That’s why you need proper ventilation on gas appliances.”

CoServ does add mercaptan to the natural gas to give it a rotten egg smell but after it burns the exhaust can’t be detected by humans.

Carbon monoxide detectors alert you and your family if there are unsafe levels of carbon monoxide in the air. Like the smoke detector, the battery should be replaced every year and the device should be replaced every five to seven years.

“Although some carbon monoxide detectors can last up to 10 years, you don’t want to push equipment to the end of its life, especially when your own life depends on it,” Eric said.

DON’T

  • Use an open gas oven to heat a home – the fumes, including carbon monoxide, could escape into the home. Not to mention it’s extremely inefficient
  • Bring a gas or charcoal grill into the home or garage – the fumes will contain carbon monoxide
  • Start a car with the garage door closed – the exhaust will contain dangerous levels of carbon monoxide
  • Put a gas- or diesel-powered generator inside a home or garage or near a window

DO

  • Change the batteries on your carbon monoxide detector once a year
  • Replace your carbon monoxide detector every five to seven years
  • Have your gas appliances inspected once a year by a trained professional to ensure the exhaust system is working properly
  • Place gas- or diesel-powered generators 20 feet from your home when in use

 

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