Photo Credit: Kidde.comWaking up to an alarm in the middle of the night is often scary. I was especially concerned when this happened to me the other night because I realized it was the carbon monoxide monitor outside of our bedrooms. Carbon monoxide might be one of the most lethal toxins that can find its way into your home. It's odorless, colorless, tasteless, and highly poisonous. Appliances and machines like furnaces, portable generators, space heaters, and gas ovens, often without any warning, can emit it.
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The tricky thing about the side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning is that it often causes impaired judgment, confusion, and sleepiness because it starves your brain, heart and body from oxygen. So if the levels of gas are high, you most likely will not be in the best frame of mind to make good decisions. In many cases, those who hear the alarm either assume it's a false notification or just unplug it to stop the noise, which can lead to dangerous consequences that may even lead to death. Sadly, I know of an entire family who died because they thought their alarm was just malfunctioning and ignored its warning.
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Carbon monoxide poisoning is the largest source of poisoning in our country and causes thousands of unnecessary deaths annually. So far, over 25 states now legally require monitors in all apartments, condos, homes and hotels. Luckily, in our home the alarm sounded to alert us to a low battery, which acts as a back up in case of a power outage. A monitor is not a guarantee that you'll be safe from poisoning, but it will alert you if there is an issue in your home.
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Keep your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning with these easy steps from the Environmental Protection Agency
1. Install a monitor on each floor of your home.
2. Place an additional detector near any major gas-burning appliance like a hot water heater or in your garage. Have heaters and gas-burning appliances inspected regularly for safety.
3. If a person has been subjected to carbon monoxide, immediately move them outside for fresh air, call 911, and seek emergency care.
4. If your carbon monoxide monitor goes off, check to see if any household members are experiencing symptoms of poisoning.
5. Most importantly, even if no one is currently experiencing symptoms, ventilate the home by opening the windows and doors and turn off any gas appliances.
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