Winter Weather & Carbon Monoxide Safety

by Tina Jaycox

The cold weather has officially arrived for most parts of the country. Cold weather inevitably means you’ve turned the heat on to take the chill out of the air. As a reminder, now is a good time to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors/alarms in your home. It’s important to check the manufacture date of these detectors/alarms as well since they do expire.

As a general rule of thumb, the life expectancy of a smoke detector is 10 years. The sensors within the device will begin to lose sensitivity at the 10-year mark. Don’t let the test button give you a false sense of security. The test button is designed to confirm that the electronic components of the device are working, it does not ensure that the smoke sensors are working.

In terms of carbon monoxide detectors/alarms, the life expectancy is 5-7 years. Outdated devices put families at risk of serious carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO poisoning can be fatal. While CO poisoning is a year-round threat, it is more common in the cold weather. It’s important to remember that CO is odorless and tasteless. When fuel-burning appliances/equipment fail and are not working properly, CO can build up in your home and cause CO poisoning. If you have a gas furnace, it’s important to get it serviced on a fairly routine basis in order to ensure it’s working properly and not releasing CO into your home. We know you’ve heard this before, but it’s worth restating, using a range/oven to heat your home is very dangerous.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. Symptoms may appear suddenly or occur gradually after long-term CO exposure. CO detectors/alarms can provide an early warning to families before CO builds up to dangerous levels. Make sure you know which appliances in your home are fuel-burning appliances. They may include furnaces, water heaters, stoves/ranges, space heaters, and clothes dryers. Visit your local gas provider’s website to learn more about gas safety measures and how to report potential gas leaks or visit SafeKids.org for more carbon monoxide safety tips.

If you think there are high levels of CO in your home, go outside immediately and call 911 to report it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.  Stay warm!

At Hillmann Consulting, LLC, we strive to make a better future for all the communities we touch. To help share our safety tips and advice in your community, like us on Facebook.