New homes, schools, office buildings, and more are being built as airtight as possible in an effort to save on energy, and to be able to better control the indoor environment.
But if the indoor environment isn’t properly controlled, contaminants such as formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide (CO), and radon can build up and circulate throughout the house.
Carbon Monoxide poisoning isn’t only a risk inside a house. It’s a risk in any enclosed space.
After 7-year-old Sophia Baechler died in 2015 from carbon monoxide poisoning while riding in a boat in 2015, a law was passed requiring carbon monoxide detectors on boats.
Minnesota is the first state to implement this requirement. Sophia’s Law was to take effect last month, but it has now been slated to effect May 1, 2018. The delay is due to availability issues of marine carbon monoxide detectors.
On boats, carbon monoxide poisoning can happen when the gas builds up from an idling motor, generator, or faulty motor exhaust system.
Similar sources found in a house are:
- Furnaces or boilers
- Gas stoves and ovens
- Fireplaces, both gas and wood burning
- Water heaters
- Power generators
- Motor vehicles
Baechler’s death was the result of carbon monoxide leaking from a hole into the boat’s exhaust pipe.
The law requires any motorboat with an “enclosed accommodation area” i.e. sleeping areas, galleys with sinks, toilet compartments etc.… to have a marine-certified carbon monoxide detector. Motorboats with “an enclosed occupancy space” aren’t required to have detectors but must have three warning stickers about carbon monoxide poisoning.
Are you experiencing headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea or dizziness?
Flu-like symptoms like those mentioned above are the initial symptoms one would experience in a carbon monoxide poisoning. You will not see or smell anything. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, invisible gas typically produced by burning fuel. Carbon monoxide can become fatal when there are high concentrations indoors.
Carbon monoxide is produced by burning fuel:
- when cooking or heating with fuel-burning appliances,
- when running a car or generator indoors, or
- when burning charcoal indoors.
The best way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is to keep all potential sources like those listed above in good working order. Improper use of fuel-burning appliances or equipment can cause fatal concentrations of carbon monoxide.
- Always follow manufacturer’s directions for safe operation.
- Inspect and service equipment regularly.
Additionally, carbon monoxide alarms with battery back-up should be installed near sleeping areas and tested regularly.
If you suspect you are experiencing poisoning by carbon monoxide, immediately get fresh air and medical attention. Notify the fire department to determine if and when it is safe to re-enter the building.