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Is carbon monoxide dangerous?

Carbon monoxide gets a lot of buzz. We hear warnings in the news regularly about the dangers of carbon monoxide and how we should protect ourselves, our homes and our families from the potentially deadly gas. But is all the buzz just hype, or is carbon monoxide truly dangerous? If it is, how can you keep your home and family safe?

The dangers of carbon monoxide

The truth is carbon monoxide is dangerous. It can cause irreparable damage and even death. Here’s why: When inhaled, carbon monoxide bonds with the cells in your blood, taking the place of oxygen. Also, with carbon monoxide edging it out, oxygen can no longer enter your blood stream and make its way throughout your body and to your organs. That can lead to organ damage and even death. Carbon monoxide is made more dangerous by the fact that it is odorless and invisible. So, in most cases, most people can’t tell that they are being exposed to carbon monoxide.

How carbon monoxide forms

Carbon monoxide results from incomplete combustion. So, whether it’s a malfunctioning heating appliance or hot water heater, a fireplace with a blocked chimney, or a car or generator that isn’t properly ventilated, carbon monoxide can come from any appliance or machine fueled by combustion.

Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning

At the early stages, carbon monoxide exposure mimics symptoms of the flu. Also, people who breathe in carbon monoxide experience headaches, fatigue, nausea, achiness and exhaustion. If not removed from the source of the carbon monoxide, people can become weak, confused or forgetful. And, they can vomit or lose consciousness.

How to prevent carbon monoxide exposure

Maintaining your appliances is the first step in protecting your home from carbon monoxide poisoning. So, fireplaces, furnaces and chimneys should be cleaned and inspected by a professional at least once per year. Clothing dryer vents also need to be cleaned once per year to prevent blockages that can allow carbon monoxide to back up into your home. Also, make sure that you never burn anything in your fireplace or heating stove that wasn’t intended to be burned, don’t use outdoor appliances — like camp stoves or generators — indoors. Never leave a car running in the garage, even with the door opened.

Carbon monoxide detection

To keep your home and family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning, you also should equip your home with carbon monoxide detectors. Also, carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on each floor of your home and outside of all sleeping areas. Check your carbon monoxide detectors regularly to make sure the batteries are fresh and the carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.

If you are concerned about carbon monoxide hazards in your home, call the experts at Total Chimney Care! We clean and inspect chimneys, oil flues and clothing dryer vents. And, we can spot carbon monoxide hazards in and around your appliances. We can help you resolve any hazards and provide you with carbon monoxide safety tips.

By Steve Sobczak on April 24th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment

How To Test Your Smoke Alarm

Smoke alarms save lives. However, for smoke alarms to do their important work, they have to be installed and working properly. The statistics from the National Fire Prevention Association show why you must be sure that your smoke alarms are in good working order:

  • Three out of five home fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms.
  • 38 percent of home fire deaths occur in homes that don’t have any smoke alarms.
  • The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half when working smoke alarms are installed.

You can make sure you and your family are protected from the risk of a home fire by checking your smoke alarm properly and regularly.

When to test your smoke alarm

The U.S. Fire Administration advises that smoke alarms should be checked at least once per month. Batteries should be replaced at least twice per year. The usual recommendation is to change batteries when you switch back and forth from daylight savings time as a reminder. Your smoke detector may warrant a check if it begins to chirp, if it starts setting off false alarms, or if it has been set off frequently by cooking or other types of smoke.

How to test your smoke alarm

Get the help of another person. Have them stand at a point in your home farthest away from the smoke detector. You will want to make sure they can hear the alarm during testing. Press and hold the test button on the smoke alarm and wait for the alarm to start. The sound emitted by the alarm should be piercing. In addition, the person you’ve stationed at the other end of your home should be able to hear it clearly. So, what if the alarm doesn’t go off, seems muffled, or isn’t able to be heard from the other side of your home? Simply replace the battery and retest the alarm. You can also dust the unit to make sure that debris isn’t blocking the sound of the alarm.

When to replace your smoke alarm

The U.S. Fire Administration recommends replacing smoke alarms, regardless of their function, at least once every 10 years. Obviously, you will want to replace your smoke alarms immediately if they stop working, or aren’t loud enough to alert people throughout your home.

Other alarm safety tips

In addition to regularly testing your smoke alarms, you also should examine the placement of the smoke alarms in your home. There should be at least one smoke alarm on every floor of your home. There should be a smoke alarm outside of any sleeping areas, as well as within each bedroom. Additionally, you should be sure that your home is protected by carbon monoxide detectors as well. Just like their smoke-detecting counterparts, carbon monoxide detectors can alert your family to a hazard and help them escape your home safely.

Working smoke detectors are crucial to your family’s safety. Make sure you are regularly checking your smoke alarms and replacing batteries. Most importantly, be sure that every member of your family, especially small children, know what the smoke alarm sounds like and what they should do if they hear it!

By Steve Sobczak on January 9th, 2017 | Tagged with: Tags: , , | Leave a Comment