What You Don't Know About Carbon Monoxide Could Hurt You | This West Coast Mommy
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What You Don’t Know About Carbon Monoxide Could Hurt You

Like you, my family’s health and well being is my number one priority. I want my kids to be active, adventurous, and safe. I certainly don’t believe in bubble wrapping them, but when it comes to simple safety precautions, why wouldn’t I take them?

I encourage my kids to ride their bikes and play in the water, but I make sure they always wear bike helmets and life preservers too. We don’t stop riding in cars, but I keep my kids rear facing in their car seats for as long as possible because I know they’re up to five times less likely to be hurt in a car accident that way. These simple safety devices save lives.

No matter how safety-conscious we might be though, we need all the information in order to make wise decisions about reducing risks and keeping our families safe and healthy.

Unfortunately, what you don’t know can hurt you. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colourless, and tasteless, so you can’t tell when your family is exposed. That’s why carbon monoxide is sometimes called the silent killer.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas formed whenever any kind of fuel, whether natural gas, oil, kerosene, propane, wood, gasoline, etc. is burned incompletely. Typical sources inside our homes include a gas furnace, gas fireplace, gas range, or gas water heater. Other sources include car exhaust, tobacco smoke, a blocked chimney, a wood-burning stove, or burning any kind of fuel in an enclosed space.

When breathed in, carbon monoxide binds to the hemoglobin in your red blood cells preventing the blood from carrying oxygen. Because of their smaller size, children and pets are especially vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning. Depending on the level and length of exposure, symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning could include:

  • chronic headaches
  • nausea
  • drowsiness
  • impaired judgment
  • loss of coordination

High levels of exposure can result in unconsciousness, coma, brain damage, and death. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, move the affected person to fresh air immediately and get medical help right away.

Reduce the Risk

Serious and life threatening injuries from carbon monoxide can happen to anyone, but the good news is that they’re preventable! There are some simple precautions you can take to significantly reduce the risk. Just like we make sure that everyone in the car is wearing a seat belt or properly harnessed in a car seat, once you know how, you can institute basic safety measures to keep you and your family safe.

The most effective way to protect your family from carbon monoxide is to have your gas furnace and appliances regularly inspected and maintained by a licensed natural gas contractor. You wouldn’t neglect your car by driving it every day without a tune-up or oil change, so why would you neglect your home appliances? Get them checked once a year to make sure everything is working as intended. Installing a carbon monoxide detector is a useful supplementary safety feature in between annual checks, but it shouldn’t replace regular maintenance.

Often we feel like, “It won’t happen to me” and take unnecessary risks which could result in serious injuries. 90% of all injuries are both preventable and predictable. Make sure that carbon monoxide poisoning is one of them!

Learn more about natural gas appliance safety at The Community Against Preventable Injuries.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation. Nevertheless, all opinions expressed are my own and based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ.

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