Beware of the silent danger

Beware of the silent danger


There are dangers that are often associated with the winter months, such as icy roads. However, unlike the more noticeable unsafe traveling conditions, there’s a silent danger that lurks, which could be even more deadly: carbon monoxide. CO accidents tend to happen more frequently at this time of year when windows in homes and cars are most likely closed. January is said to be the month with the most reported CO accidents.

Carbon monoxide is a gas that is both colorless and odorless. It is the by-product of burning fuel from any small engine or motor vehicle, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, space heaters, generators or furnaces. If it’s allowed to build up indoors, it will poison those who breathe it in.  The danger of the gas is in the fact that since it can’t be seen, tasted or smelled, it is virtually undetectable. And when inhaled, CO will replace oxygen in the blood, which is needed to sustain life. In most cases, the victim will not even be aware of what is happening since poisoning often happens in the middle of the night during sleep.

There are some simple measures to prevent that from occurring. First, make certain all appliances are properly serviced and in good working order. All flues and chimneys should be cleared as well. If blocked with soot, it will prevent CO from escaping from the house.

Never run a car in the garage unless the outside door is open. And then, especially in garages that are attached to a house, running cars should be moved out of the building quickly. CO will quickly infiltrate any and all attached spaces.

And finally, everyone should own a CO detector. They are inexpensive and easy-to-install plug-in or battery-operated devices similar to a smoke alarm. Dangerous levels of the gas will trigger the alarm, which can thwart a tragedy.

These measures might seem redundant to some that are aware of this danger, and that’s a good thing. It bears repeating.