Carbon Monoxide injuries and fatalities occur most often during the winter months. Unlike natural gas, carbon monoxide has no smell and is virtually undetectable. Closed windows limit fresh air circulation so that the danger of carbon monoxide poising is greatest.
Possible sources of that poinsoning are from gas burning appliances such as ranges, ovens, waterheaters, furnaces, etc. Malfunctioning gas burners, defective appliance flues or a damaged furnace are all conditions which can allow carbon monoxide to enter the living space.
Another common source of carbon monoxide entry is from either an improperly lit fireplace or a chimney with inadequate draft. This could be caused from improperly lighting a fire, a partially opened damper or clogged chimney flue.
The symptoms vary from very mild (headaches, drowsiness, joint aches, dizziness) to extreme (flu-like symptoms, severe headaches, difficulty breathing, allergy symptoms, nausea). Depending on the level and length of exposure, carbon monoxide is lethal. Carbon monoxide detectors (similar in design to a standard smoke detector) are readily available (drug stores, hardware stores, home improvement stores) and cost under twenty-five dollars. They are designed to sound a loud alarm when measuring any low level condition of carbon monxide.
In the City of San Francisco an Energy and Water inspection is mandated before the roperty can transfer. During this inspection, the number, placement and effectiveness of smoke detectors are inspected, corrected and/or installed. This is a perfect opportunity to ask for a carbon monoxide detector or the combination smoke and carbon momxide detector to be installed. It may reflect a slightly higher cost for the Buyer or Seller but will be well worth the addition of an important detector that could save lives. OR make sure that you update all of your current smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and go ahead and install them yourself – TODAY!!!