Carbon Monoxide is an odourless, tasteless and invisible gas with chemical formula (CO). Each carbon monoxide molecule contains one oxygen atom covalently bonded with one carbon atom. This invisible gas is naturally present in the air, but in low levels. Artificially, it is liberated during the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, such as wood, charcoal, kerosene, natural gas and gasoline. In homes, carbon monoxide is formed from incomplete combustion in flame-fuelled devices such as ovens, grills, furnaces, water heaters, clothes dryers and space heaters.
Like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide is also hazardous to health, and is more life threatening as compared to the former. Since it is an odourless and colourless gas, it is often too late when a person becomes aware of it because it rapidly accumulates in the blood, preventing it from carrying oxygen, which can be lethal in serious cases.
There are several preventive measures that you can take to prevent accumulation of this deadly gas in your home and keep it safe.
Regularly clean exhaust vents/ chimneys
Blockages like a bird’s nest in the chimney or accumulation of debris interrupt the venting process of your appliances, forcing carbon monoxide back into your home. By regularly cleaning the chimneys and exhaust vents in your home you allow carbon monoxide and other hazardous gases to escape.
Do not warm up your car in the garage
If you have a garage attached to the dwelling unit, don’t warm up your car inside. Even if the garage is detached from the residential unit, running a vehicle in an enclosed area can be dangerous. You should also avoid operating lawnmowers, snow-blowers or electricity generators in a roofed area with improper ventilation. Moreover, resist your urge to barbeque in the garage during the winters.
Check your exhaust fan
If you have a powerful exhaust fan, make sure it is not located close to the chimney of your own house or your neighbours’, since it can draw the escaping carbon monoxide back into the house.
Avoid using kerosene space heaters in enclosed areas
Do not use a kerosene space heater indoors. However, when unavoidable, make sure you keep a window wide open. Never refuel the unit indoors either; wait for the heater to cool down and then take it outside for refuelling.
Install a quality CO detector
Consider installing a quality carbon monoxide detector in the house and use it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.