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How to Safeguard Your Home From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Updated February 26, 2024 | By Chris Stevenson

Chances are you’ve heard stories about victims of carbon monoxide accidents. Perhaps they were watching television in their favorite armchair, unaware that a faulty appliance had malfunctioned, releasing life-threatening carbon monoxide into their home. As chemicals became more concentrated in the environment, the victim gradually began experiencing symptoms such as nausea, confusion, and fatigue. If the victim did not escape or call for help, they may have experienced severe injury or even death.

We know these stories are alarming, making us realize that if it can happen to them, it could happen to us.

Thankfully, you can take steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Continue reading to understand the causes behind carbon monoxide incidents, the symptoms to watch out for, and the measures you can take to safeguard your family.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a hazardous byproduct of incomplete burning of natural gas and other carbon-based fuels, such as gasoline, liquid propane, oil, or charcoal. One of the reasons that carbon monoxide is so dangerous is that it has no odor, no taste, and no color. If carbon monoxide builds up in your home, you may not realize it until it has already begun to affect you.

How Common Are Carbon Monoxide Accidents?

Carbon monoxide can be dangerous, but how often does it result in injury or death? According to the CDC, carbon monoxide poisoning kills over 400 people per year. It also causes over 100,000 emergency room visits each year.

The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases in the winter when people are more likely to use furnaces, gas ranges, and stoves.

With these startling statistics in mind, it’s crucial to understand what triggers these events.

What Causes Carbon Monoxide Accidents?

When exhaust gasses build up in an enclosed space, the level of CO in the air rises. This places people and animals within that space at significant risk since they’ll breathe in a dangerous amount of the gas, leading to potential poisoning or even death.

The primary sources of CO poisoning are household appliances and machinery that release carbon monoxide. These appliances or machines can release hazardous levels of CO if they’re malfunctioning or if someone installs them incorrectly. Fuel-burning appliances are the biggest culprits and can include:

  • Gas stoves and ovens
  • Space heaters
  • Clothes dryers
  • Furnaces
  • Chimneys
  • Water heaters
  • Portable generators

In addition to indoor appliances, outdoor machinery, such as lawn equipment, grills, and motor vehicles, can cause carbon monoxide poisoning if running in confined spaces.

Now that we’ve identified the usual suspects, let’s learn the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning so you know what to do quickly if it happens.

What Are the Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Carbon monoxide poisoning takes place in three stages. The severity of symptoms will depend on the concentration of carbon monoxide in the environment and the length of time you’ve been breathing it in.

Early Symptoms of CO Poisoning

The first effects of carbon monoxide may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

Symptoms After Sustained Exposure

If exposure continues, your symptoms may worsen, especially nausea. You may also start to experience the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Exhaustion
  • Disorientation and impaired judgment
  • Irritability and confusion

Severe Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

When high levels of CO build up in your environment, you could face life-threatening symptoms, even death.

These symptoms include:

  • Heightened confusion and diminished physical control
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Brain Damage
  • Death

You might be at higher risk for carbon monoxide poisoning if you’re particularly young or old, have specific heart or lung conditions, or are pregnant.

How Can I Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

The good news is that carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable.

You can help your family stay safe by following these tips:

  • Install a CO detector and change the batteries every six months. Check it regularly to ensure that it’s working correctly.
  • Check for airflow blockages in your home, especially in vents and flues.
  • Hire a qualified technician yearly to service your water heater, home heating system, and other fuel-burning appliances.
  • Never run fuel-burning appliances or machinery like generators and pressure washers inside your home, garage, basement, or other enclosed structures. Never use outdoor cooking or camping equipment such as charcoal grills, lanterns, and portable stoves indoors.
  • If purchasing new appliances, ensure a licensed technician installs them according to manufacturer directions.
  • If you’re planning a trip, consider taking a portable carbon monoxide detector.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be life-threatening, but if you take precautions, it is entirely preventable.

With safety steps in mind, you might also wonder what legal choices you have if an unfortunate incident happens.

Can You Sue for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

If you or a loved one is the victim of carbon monoxide poisoning, you may wonder about your legal options. Depending on your case, the answer may be yes. You may be able to file a claim under the following circumstances:

  • If an appliance malfunctions, the manufacturer may be held liable for damages.
  • If a company installs an appliance improperly, leading to carbon monoxide being produced, they may be responsible.
  • If a business fails to provide a safe working environment, resulting in unsafe CO levels, they may be at fault.
  • The landlord or building owner may be responsible if your apartment or rental building is unsafe due to a carbon monoxide leak.

If you have experienced carbon monoxide poisoning and believe another party is at fault, contact a premises liability lawyer or a carbon monoxide lawyer as soon as possible. In most cases, you have two years to file a claim for damages.

Contact a Carbon Monoxide Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one has experienced carbon monoxide poisoning, contact a lawyer at Wilson Kehoe Winingham today. Our attorneys have litigated carbon monoxide lawsuits, and we’re ready to review your case at no charge. Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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Let WKW put our experience to work for you. Contact us for your free case evaluation.


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