Protecting yourself against carbon monoxide poisoning

Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 8:38 AM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - It’s something most people never think about during the cold months, but it can literally be a silent killer: carbon monoxide.

Experts say most carbon monoxide deaths often happen during the winter months. A small and inexpensive alarm can be all you need to prevent that from happening, but a lot of buildings don’t have them.

Carbon monoxide is scary because you can’t see, taste, or smell it. It is a colorless, poisonous, odorless, tasteless, flammable gas that is slightly less dense than air. At high concentrations, it can knock a person out almost instantaneously and stop their breathing within a minute. Experts say a lot of victims are killed in their sleep and an alarm is all it takes to prevent this from happening to your family. It beeps four times to let you know to get out immediately.

There is no national requirement for carbon monoxide alarms anywhere other than federally funded public housing.

Here in Georgia, carbon monoxide alarms are required outside of each separate sleeping area near bedrooms in certain newly constructed homes. But if you’re in an older home or a hotel or motel, it may not have one. And it’s the same for some schools and daycares.

One woman Atlanta News First spoke to says she had no idea her flu-like symptoms were caused by carbon monoxide seeping into her apartment.

“I was just thankful that we were able to get out and go to the emergency room and survive it because a lot of people don’t,” said Ashley Wilson, who survived carbon monoxide poisoning.

You can get carbon monoxide poisoning from fuel-burning appliances like gas stoves and ovens, dryers, fireplaces, and generators - things you may be using a lot during the holidays and winter months. So, experts suggest making sure your home is equipped. And if you’re not staying at home, there are also portable CO alarms that you can buy.