You and almost everyone in Texas face the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning every day. Your car, water heater, oven and grill are but some of the potential sources of deadly carbon monoxide. Any device that uses charcoal, natural gas, wood, gasoline and other fuels is dangerous if you do not take appropriate precautions because it produces this deadly, invisible and odorless gas.
You could be overwhelmed by this gas that some call the silent killer while you sleep and die without even being aware of it. Carbon monoxide detectors are essential, and you can install them in your home, boat and motorhome. Safety authorities say some of the biggest threats involve malfunctioning and out-of-order equipment.
Reg flags to indicate malfunctions
If you are alert and look out for the following telltale signs of problems with equipment and appliances, you can protect yourself and your loved ones:
- Soot falling from appliances or fireplaces indicates a problem.
- Vent pipes that are disconnected or loose can leak carbon monoxide.
- Check for telltale signs of vents showing water or rust streaks.
- Take note of crumbly or cracked masonry on the chimney.
- Moisture collecting on the inside of windows indicates possible danger.
Any of these signs need urgent repairs by trained technicians.
How can you stay safe?
Carbon monoxide poisoning is entirely preventable by using devices correctly. If you take note of the following precautions, you might remain out of harm's way:
- Hazards posed by vehicles: Annual checks of your vehicle's exhaust system are crucial, and never leave your vehicle's engine running in a garage that is attached to your house. Exhaust fumes can enter your home, even if you leave the garage door open.
- Open tailgate: Whenever you drive with an open tailgate, open all the windows because fumes can enter the vehicle.
- Generators: Avoid using emergency generators in the basement or garage, and even when you use them outside, they must not be closer than 20 feet from any doors or windows.
- Kerosene-powered space heaters: Always make sure the room in which you use a space heater has good airflow, and never leave it on when you go to sleep.
- Maintenance: Annual inspections by adequately qualified technicians of your water heater, heating system and all other appliances that burn fuel are essential.
- Charcoal grills: Never use portable stoves or charcoal grills indoors.
Neglecting these precautions can cause the buildup of deadly fumes.
How can you recognize signs of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Inhalation of carbon monoxide can cause a buildup in your bloodstream and replace oxygen, which is essential for life. Depriving vital organs like your heart and brain of oxygen can lead to death. Symptoms that might indicate carbon monoxide poisoning include shortness of breath and a feeling of confusion and dizziness. You might also develop a headache and become nauseous. There will be significantly more risk for infants, women who are pregnant, and those who suffer from heart disease, asthma or emphysema.
Your legal rights
If you live in a rental property, your landlord is responsible for maintenance and inspections of equipment and the installation of carbon monoxide detectors. If you or a loved one suffer the consequences of your landlord's neglect, you might have grounds to pursue financial damages. The same applies when a manufacturer's defect in an appliance causes harm. An experienced Texas personal injury attorney can explain your legal rights and take action by filing a civil lawsuit to recover damages.