5 ways seniors can stay safe from carbon monoxide poisoning

Lisa Wurth

April 3, 2012

Carbon monoxide poisoning is easily preventable!Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can kill a person quickly at high levels. Because it's difficult to detect, it's important to make sure that your loved ones take preventative measures to ensure they're not being accidentally poisoned in their own homes. Aside from idling cars, carbon monoxide can also be released by appliances that burn fuel, whether it's wood, gas, kerosene or oil. Here are five ways you can ensure that carbon monoxide isn't a threat to your relatives.

1. Be aware of the symptoms. If there are small or moderate amounts of carbon monoxide in the air, you might notice your loved one experiencing symptoms similar to the flu (without the fever), such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue or shortness of breath. If there are high levels, symptoms of poisoning may include confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination or loss of consciousness.

2. Install carbon monoxide alarms. These should be placed outside of each sleeping area in your relative's home, and there should be at least one on every floor. Make sure the alarms are always in working condition and test the batteries regularly. Interconnect all of the alarms so that when one sounds, they all will, making the noise more audible. Be sure that it's the carbon monoxide alarm, not the smoke alarm, that is making noise when it goes off.

3. Don't warm up a car in the garage. Take it out of the garage immediately after you start the vehicle and be sure not to start any other fueled motor vehicles indoors – even if the doors are open. During the winter, check to ensure that there's no snow or ice blocking the car's exhaust pipe. Clearing your loved ones' dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace vents during the winter is also a good idea.

4. Invest in a medical alarm system from Bay Alarm. With a medical alert device, your loved ones will be able to contact emergency services at the push of a button. In the event of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, your relatives will be able to get help immediately to avoid overexposure that could prove to be deadly.

5. If you notice symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, get your loved ones into an area with fresh air as soon as possible. Open all of the doors and windows, turn off any combustion appliances and get out of the house. Check to see if anyone else in the area is experiencing symptoms as well.