Don’t Fear The Reaper – Fear Carbon Monoxide!

What Blue Oyster Cult failed to mentioned when they so graciously reminded everyone not to fear the reaper is that, although the reaper is not to be feared, another villain is. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that can sneak in and steal your life in the middle of the night if you're not careful. Here's what you need to know about the gas that's been called "the silent killer."

Where does carbon monoxide come from?

Carbon monoxide is emitted any time a fuel is burned. It's emitted when your furnace combusts natural gas (or propane) and also when a stove, grill, or other appliance burns a flammable substance. Even wood burning in a fireplace gives off carbon monoxide, or CO as it is commonly abbreviated. Under ideal circumstances, the CO is vented out of your home by the chimney or exhaust system. But when this exhaust or ventilation system fails, CO may build up in your home, presenting a dangerous situation.

What are the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Being aware of the early signs of CO poisoning is important since it may save you from actually having your life taken in the middle of the night. If you're experiencing headaches, confusion, exhaustion, nausea, and/or dizziness -- and the symptoms seem to be at their worst when you're at home -- then you should vacate the house until you can have an HVAC technician from a company like Universal Enterprises Inc. come look at your furnace and ventilation system and ensure you're not being exposed to carbon monoxide.

How can you prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

One of the most important steps you can take is to invest in a carbon monoxide detector. Place it in or near your bedroom so that if it goes off in the middle of the night, you'll actually hear it. Make sure you check the batteries monthly to ensure the detector is working. (Most have a test button that you'll push to check.)

Always have any repairs done to your furnace, stove, or other fuel-burning appliances conducted by a professional. Unless you've been though the proper training to complete the repairs yourself, you're at risk of making a mistake that could lead to CO buildup in the home.

Never use a grill inside, as it will give off carbon monoxide. Don't use a gas stove to heat your home, and place any generators far away from your windows so their exhaust doesn't flow into your home.

Blue Oyster Cult will probably never sing a song about the colorless poison gas that can claim your life -- but that's okay. Now you know who you should really fear.