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Prevent Garage Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Safety First! Garage Carbon Monoxide Is Not to Be Taken Lightly.

Garage carbon monoxide poisoning is a real problem—and it could be an invisible killer. Carbon monoxide gas is produced by incomplete combustion, such as what happens in your car’s engine, especially when you first start it up in the morning. If you breathe it in, the gas will bond with your red blood cells so tightly that oxygen can’t get in. Breathe in a little, and you get a headache. Breathe in a bit more, and you can’t think clearly. Breathe in a bit more, and you pass out and maybe die.

But since carbon monoxide has no color or odor, there is no way to know whether you’re breathing it until you start having symptoms. Since one symptom is not thinking clearly, you might not be able to save yourself.

Protect Yourself From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

What all this has to do with garages is that when you run your car in a garage, carbon monoxide levels can rise to dangerous levels in just a minute or two, even if the garage door is wide open. And when you drive away and close the door, the gas stays in there for hours—or, if you have an attached garage, the gas will leak into your house and start to poison your family and pets. The poisoning might be mild, or it might not. Susceptibility to the gas varies. Maybe you’re saying you have a carbon monoxide detector in your living room, so you’re safe. Not necessarily. It takes several hours for the gas to build up in your house, so if the alarm goes off, your spouse or babysitter won’t be able to find a possible source of carbon monoxide (the source drove away hours earlier) and will likely assume there is just something wrong with the alarm.

How Long Does It Take for Carbon Monoxide to Dissipate?

If you think you’ve inhaled carbon monoxide, expect it to take four to six hours to dissipate from your body. When the gas is in your garage, dissipation time depends on your ventilation and how much carbon monoxide is in the space. Stopping the source from dispersing more gas and opening your garage door and windows can help you air out your garage more quickly. 

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Garage

There are a couple of things you can do to keep yourself and your family safe from garage carbon monoxide poisoning.

Garage Ventilation

First, never run your car inside your garage, for any reason (never burn anything indoors that isn’t properly vented—no cookouts inside your garage, either, for example). Get everybody inside the car and open the garage door before starting the vehicle, then drive out promptly. If you can vent the garage afterwards, so much the better. When you return, shut the vehicle off promptly.

Carbon Monoxide Detector in Your Garage

Second, consider putting a carbon monoxide detector inside your garage. There are even models that will automatically open the garage door if carbon monoxide reaches dangerous levels. As we have seen, an open door does not prevent poisoning, but could buy a little more time. The important thing is that a detector inside your garage will alert you to the problem promptly, so you won’t think there is something wrong with the detector and ignore the alarm.

How Can You Safely Warm Up Your Car?

Never leave your car running in the garage with the door closed. Instead, open your garage door and drive out as soon as possible. Leave the garage door open to let the air circulate. Modern cars often only need only 30 seconds to warm up. On cold days, you may want to use a block heater overnight or run the engine in your driveway to get your vehicle ready for a drive. 

Where Should You Put a Carbon Monoxide Detector in Your Garage?

The best placement of your carbon monoxide detector will depend on the type of garage you have. If you have an attached garage, you will want to place your detectors within 10 feet of the door, in the room you enter from the garage, and in any rooms above the garage. Position your carbon monoxide detectors no higher than knee height since the odorless gas does not rise.

External garages are trickier, so we recommend reading the manufacturer’s instructions for your detector. Most are not suitable for places with high moisture or spots where temperatures fall below 40 degrees or climb above 100 degrees. Placement in an incompatible environment may damage the detector and reduce its effectiveness.

Only install a carbon monoxide detector in your garage if it can withstand the conditions there. If you position your alarms in the wrong places, you may experience false alerts after running your engine for a short time, even with the door open.

Why Do You Need a Carbon Monoxide Detector in the Garage?

If it is at all possible, it is useful to place a detector in your garage. It’s impossible to detect the odorless and colorless gas without a detector, and the gas can affect your body and mind in just minutes. Since carbon monoxide in a garage is in an enclosed space, running your car even briefly can impact you. A detector is a good way to ensure you recognize high carbon monoxide levels and leave the garage when necessary.

Contact Us to Learn More About Garage Door Safety

Garages are useful things, but they have their risks. Fortunately, most of those risks can be minimized by the proper use of the door.If your garage doors are not opening or closing correctly, you could trap carbon monoxide inside your garage. Worse, if your garage doors do not open quickly, it can be difficult to get to fresh air fast.

Garage Door and More is a family-owned business in Charlotte, NC, and our team can help. Our garage door installation and repair services ensure your garage doors work properly. We can also install garage door openers that allow you to open your garage doors remotely or quickly when you need to.

We would be happy to chat with you about your questions! Fill out the form here and reach out to our experts.



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