Carbon monoxide (CO) is called the silent killer because it’s an odorless, colorless gas that can wipe out an entire family as they sleep. This is a serious public health concern, as more than 10,000 people are poisoned by carbon monoxide each year and over 500 people in the U.S. die annually from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Now that our windows and doors have closed up for the winter, the carbon monoxide problem becomes more dangerous than ever, as anything that burns fuel can become a deadly source of carbon monoxide. Fortunately, a CO detector can protect your family–for less than $30.
Even if a victim of CO poisoning is lucky and doesn’t die, exposure can result in brain damage, heart problems, major organ dysfunction, memory or cognitive problems, behavioral and personality changes, in addition to a range of other permanent health problems. How does carbon monoxide do such damage to your body?
Once the gas has been breathed in, it replaces the oxygen in the blood, killing off cells and starving vital organs of oxygen. Unfortunately, one of the early, low-dose symptoms resembles the flu, making it difficult to detect carbon monoxide poisoning at an early stage, unless you have a working detector in the home.
Colorado has a Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm Law requiring the seller of every residence be responsible for having CO detectors in the home prior to listing and to closing. Among the requirements is that one must be installed within 15 feet of the entrance to each bedroom. (Search Colorado House Bill 1091 for details.)
One final word of warning: Whether it’s your car, your snowblower or any other engine that runs off fuel–don’t run it in your garage, even with the door open, as fumes can easily seep into the house. However– remember: it’s illegal in Colorado to run your car unattended.