sleepingIt’s one of the signs of a winter that lingers on and on. Everyone in the house comes down with the flu. Mom, dad and even the healthiest young ones complain of headache, nausea and weakness. Getting up to care for the kids seems like a massive chore, but someone has to dole out the medicine. As your burning eyes read the list of symptoms on the Robitussin label, a nagging thought occurs, “What if I’m treating the wrong thing?”
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Symptoms of CO Poisoning

Even at low levels, carbon monoxide can have a fast effect on many people. These early symptoms include headaches, dizziness and nausea, which people are prone to dismiss prematurely. As you breathe CO, it builds up in the blood, and as that level rises, symptoms can include confusion, drowsiness, rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, chest pain, vision problems and even seizures. Many times, people think they have the flu when, in fact, they are suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas that is poisonous to people and pets. Coined the “silent killer” by firefighters because you can’t see, smell or taste CO, many who die from it often do so without ever realizing there was a threat. In fact, each year CO kills many families while they sleep soundly in their beds. CO can also kill while people are active, and there have been a number of high-profile incidents at schools, manufacturing plants, government buildings and even grocery stores.

Why You Need CO Monitoring

At high volumes, carbon monoxide can kill, but even at low volumes, it can cause complications over time, including brain damage. CO is particularly dangerous indoors due to how fast concentration levels can rise. Potential sources of carbon monoxide in the home include furnaces, fireplaces, gas stoves, gas water heaters and even automobile exhaust from an attached garage. CO can kill a family member overnight, and it can have a devastating long-term effect, particularly among kids, who are still growing and thus have a high metabolism.

The Ideal CO Protection for Your Home

The best house security systems available are monitored wireless alarm systems that include carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home and attached buildings. Around-the-clock monitoring is crucial because the monitoring station will receive immediate notification if a CO emergency occurs or a CO sensor fails. Ideally, you should have a professional install your CO detectors and test them on a regular basis. Most security companies include those services in their basic packages.

In a CO Emergency

If a carbon monoxide alarm activates or you receive a call from your security service, don’t procrastinate. Get everyone outdoors immediately. Help the children, elderly, disabled and family pets first, and then call 911. Wait outside for the firefighters and paramedics to arrive.

If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector in the home, don’t take any chances. If multiple people in a home are experiencing flu-like symptoms, it’s best to open the windows and let fresh air in even if it seems counterintuitive.

Your best defense against CO poisoning, however, is contacting a professional fire and security company to install carbon monoxide detectors. Then, you will know for sure whether your family is suffering from the flu or something far more dangerous has seeped into your home.

Todd Bedford

Todd is the President of Lifeline Fire & Security, the only Authorized Honeywell dealer in Hawaii. He serves as President of the Kapolei Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Rotary Club.
Todd Bedford

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