Another source of unnecessary deaths in winter months is carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be emitted from any fuel-burning appliances in the home, including furnaces and fireplaces. It’s called an “invisible killer” because carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless and poisonous. You know when people say “I can smell gas”? The gas company actually adds that smell so that we can detect it, by using a chemical called mercaptan.
There has been an increasing trend in unintentional, non-fire carbon monoxide (CO) deaths associated with consumer products since 1999. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission staff estimates there were 184 CO poisoning deaths on average per year from 2005-2007 compared to 122 deaths per year from 1999-2001. Since 1999, the majority of CO deaths have been associated with heating systems and portable generators.
There’s a new law that, as of July 1, 2011, requires carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in all single-family dwellings, and all other dwellings by 2013 if they have a fossil-fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace or attached garage. This applies to rental properties too!
If you’re wondering which one to get, Home Depot has put together this handy guide. Don’t let ignorance be an excuse for your home not having one installed!
So please, take the time to read the safety tips below and put them into practice in your home, office or workspace. As much as it’s our business to clean up after fires, we’d much prefer if they didn’t occur, as they can potentially cause serious injury or death.
- Schedule a yearly professional inspection of all fuel-burning home heating systems, including furnaces, boilers, fireplaces, wood stoves, water heaters, chimneys, flues and vents.
- NEVER operate a portable gasoline-powered generator in an enclosed space, such as a garage, shed, or crawlspace, or in the home.
- Keep portable generators as far away from your home and your neighbors’ homes as possible – away from open doors, windows or vents that could allow deadly carbon monoxide into the home.
- When purchasing a space heater, ask the salesperson whether the heater has been safety-certified. A certified heater will have a safety certification mark. These heaters will have the most up-to-date safety features. An unvented gas space heater that meets current safety standards will shut off if oxygen levels fall too low.
- Do not use portable propane space heaters indoors or in any confined space, unless they are designed specifically for indoor use. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for proper use.
- Never use gas or electric stoves to heat the home. They are not intended for that purpose and can pose a CO or fire hazard.
If your home or place of business has been affected by fire, smoke or water damage, or you know you have a mold issue, please call us immediately for an estimate: (877) 732-8471. We have technicians standing by to assist you at any time of day or night—we’re here to help you.