Indoor carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a silent and deadly threat that can occur in any home, including those in Philadelphia. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas produced by burning fuels such as gasoline, wood, propane, charcoal, or natural gas. Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself and your family:

Sources of Carbon Monoxide in Homes

Common sources of CO in homes include heating systems like furnaces and boilers, gas stoves, water heaters, and fireplaces. Improperly vented or malfunctioning appliances can release dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, making it critical to ensure these are regularly checked and maintained.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Exposure to carbon monoxide can cause flu-like symptoms, which often makes it hard to diagnose. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. High levels of exposure can be fatal, causing death within minutes.

Prevention Tips

  1. Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Place CO detectors near every sleeping area in your home and on every level, including the basement. Check the batteries at least twice a year, and replace the detectors every five to seven years.

  2. Ensure Proper Ventilation: Appliances should be vented properly according to manufacturer's instructions. Regular inspections of venting systems can prevent blockages that could cause CO buildup.

  3. Annual HVAC Inspection: Have a professional inspect and service your heating system (furnace, boiler) and any other gas, oil, or coal-burning appliances annually. In Philadelphia, services like McCorry Comfort specialize in ensuring that heating systems are not only efficient but also safe.

  4. Don’t Use Outdoor Appliances Indoors: Never use portable flameless chemical heaters, charcoal grills, or gasoline-powered tools indoors. These can produce a high amount of carbon monoxide that can be deadly within enclosed spaces.

  5. Educate Your Family: Make sure everyone in your household understands the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and knows how to recognize the symptoms and respond to CO alarms.

What to Do if Your CO Detector Alarms

  1. Immediate Response: If the alarm sounds, promptly move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door and do a headcount.
  2. Call for Help: Call your emergency services, fire department, or 911 from a fresh air location. Remain there until emergency personnel arrive.
  3. Inspect and Repair: Do not re-enter the premises until professionals have declared it safe. Have your appliances checked before using them again.

Awareness and proactive maintenance are your best defenses against carbon monoxide poisoning. By taking these preventive steps and ensuring your home is equipped with working CO detectors, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from this invisible hazard.