Fall safety plan: Preventing carbon monoxide poisoning

If you are like me, it is a source of pride to wait as long as possible to turn on your furnace. This year, though, I did not wait very long because I wanted to be sure our house was warm enough for our infant son.

Melissa's old furnace
Melissa’s old, scary furnace (now replaced)

Because we turned it on so early, we did not get our heating system checked before we used it, so today I am going to call our heating service technician to come and do a fall tune up and safety check. Having our furnace checked will ensure that it runs as efficiently as possible, saving us money. More importantly, it will make sure that our furnace runs safely.

A furnace that isn’t running right can be deadly. Carbon monoxide is made when you burn fuels like oil, natural gas and wood. You cannot see or smell carbon monoxide and if you breathe it in you can get very sick, and even die. In addition to having the furnace checked every year at the beginning of the heating season, it is also important to have carbon monoxide alarms installed.

We have a carbon monoxide alarm on every level of our home, but most homes don’t. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that you have at least one in the hallway of every sleeping area. They don’t cost much: Most carbon monoxide alarms are between $20 and $50.

Make sure you have the right kind of carbon monoxide alarms and that they are working and placed in the right areas of our home.

Your carbon monoxide alarms should be battery-powered or electric with a battery backup, in case of a power outage. Make sure the alarm is UL approved (UL #2034).

Place a carbon monoxide alarm in the hallway of every sleeping area. It should be plugged in or high on the wall, not covered by furniture or drapes. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for more detailed information.

Do not place a carbon monoxide alarm in the kitchen. Also keep your alarm away from heating vents and fuel-burning appliances.

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