Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

With the official start of winter only a few days away, everyone has already started up their heating appliances this time of year. From wood stoves to fireplaces, these heating systems are probably running right now due to the chilly temperatures that the lower Hudson Valley area has seen this year so far. While these units work hard to keep us warm in the winter, they also come with some risks. One of the most dangerous hazards is known as carbon monoxide.


Any time combustion occurs, tiny molecules of carbon monoxide form in high concentrations. Fuels of any kind can produce carbon monoxide, as long as combustion takes place. Therefore, charcoal grills, wood stoves, lanterns and car exhausts all release carbon monoxide into the air. For this reason, each of these appliances should never be used inside without properly venting it, like a wood stove with a chimney. Otherwise, the space can fill quickly with carbon monoxide and you may not realize it until it is too late. Carbon monoxide has no color, smell or taste, so the only way to know it is present is with a special carbon monoxide detector. Relying on the detector and its batteries has its own risks, so the best way to prevent danger is by keeping your heating appliances serviced and up to date.

Carbon monoxide poisoning becomes evident with issues like shortness of breath, lightheadedness, nausea and even unconsciousness. Eventually, the organs will begin to fail and death could ensue if the body receives no fresh air. At the very first sign of poisoning, you must move everyone from the space to an open outdoor area, and then call for emergency help from there. Failure to remove yourself from the enclosed space could result in unconsciousness, which makes survival much less likely.

This tiny molecule deserves respect and must be treated as the large health threat that it is. Maintaining your fireplace and stove is a good start to avoiding the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Every time the fireplace or stove burns, it continuously emits carbon monoxide. For this reason, it is imperative that the chimney is free of any obstructions. Built up creosote or even animals and nests can stop or dangerously slow the movement of vapors in the chimney, so have a chimney expert out at least once every year to sweep and inspect the chimney. Also ask to have a chimney cap installed to prevent animals from nesting inside the chimney. Another good measure to take is burning only well seasoned wood, which cuts down on the production of creosote, the thick and tarry material that can build up in the chimney.

Protect your home and family from the dangers of carbon monoxide. Simply have your local chimney specialist sweep and inspect your chimney at least once every year. If you live in the lower Hudson Valley area, trust your chimney to All Seasons Chimney. These professionals can help ensure a warm, safe home this winter.