Carbon Monoxide Dangers
Owning a fireplace is a truly wonderful experience. It allows you to enjoy the comforts of sitting in front of an open fire in your living room while the temperature plummets outside. Nothing quite compares to the warmth of a crackling fire on a cold winter evening but as with anything worth having there are responsible steps a fireplace owner needs to take to ensure the safe operation of this heating system. Most people will tell you about making sure a fire is out before you go to bed, never leave a fire unattended, and always stack the wood in such a way that it will not come tumbling out of the fireplace onto the ground but one of the less talked about but equally deadly dangers a fire can pose cannot be seen, smelled, tasted, or felt. One minute you are sitting in front of a fire and the next you are unconscious with the fire still burning away within the confines of the fireplace. This is the result of a deadly buildup of carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide (or CO) is an odorless, invisible gas that is created as a byproduct of burning wood. In a functioning chimney this gas is safely sent into the atmosphere where it is very quickly dissipated and becomes harmless. If your fireplace has a crack or blockage however it can quickly cause this gas to backup into your home. In the right concentration it can kill an adult in minutes. There is little to no warning you may be suffering from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. You will simply pass out and suffocate. While all this sounds like it is straight out of a Final Destination film there are some very simple steps to protect yourself from this untimely demise
The first and single most important step to take (whether you have a chimney or not) is to put in a carbon monoxide detectors. These units are very cheap and plug straight into the wall with a battery backup in case the power is out. They work similarly to how a smoke detector works. It detects the presence of carbon monoxide before it builds up to deadly levels and sounds an alarm allowing you time to get out safely. That step alone is hugely important in protecting yourself and your family from this silent killer.
The other important step to take is to have your chimney regularly inspected and swept. This process helps to ensure that any of the problems that can lead to the buildup of carbon monoxide in the home are dealt with before they become an issue. It is recommended that you have your chimney inspected and cleaned once a year right before the burning season to ensure the safe use of your fireplace system.
Carbon monoxide poisoning may go under the radar sometimes when the dangers of having a fire in your house comes up but it is definitely something to take precautions about. It only takes one incident to create a tragedy but if you follow the right procedures you will be happy and alive sitting in front of your fireplace all winter long.