Carbon Monoxide Can Be Deadly! You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, but at high levels it can kill a person in minutes.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. If appliances that burn fuel are maintained and used properly, the amount of CO produced is usually not hazardous. However, if appliances are not working properly or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of CO can result. Hundreds of people die accidentally every year from CO poisoning caused by malfunctioning or improperly used fuel-burning appliances. Even more die from CO produced by idling cars. Fetuses, infants, elderly people, and people with anemia or with a history of heart or respiratory disease can be especially susceptible. Be safe.
Prevention is the Key to Avoiding Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends these DOs and DON’Ts to keep your family safe:
- DO have your fuel-burning appliances – including oil and gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas ranges and ovens, gas dryers, gas or kerosene space heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves – inspected by a trained professional at the beginning of every heating season. Make certain that the flues and chimneys are connected, in good condition, and not blocked.
- DO choose appliances that vent their fumes to the outside whenever possible, have them properly installed, and maintain them according to manufacturers’ instructions.
- DO read and follow all of the instructions that accompany any fuel-burning device. If you cannot avoid using an unvented gas or kerosene space heater, carefully follow the cautions that come with the device. Use the proper fuel and keep doors to the rest of the house open. Crack a window to ensure enough air for ventilation and proper fuel-burning.
- DON’T idle the car in a garage – even if the garage door to the outside is open. Fumes can build up very quickly in the garage and living area of your home.
- DON’T use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.
- DON’T ever use a charcoal grill indoors – even in a fireplace.
- DON’T sleep in any room with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater.
- DON’T use any gasoline-powered engines (mowers, weed trimmers, snow blowers, chain saws, small engines or generators) in enclosed spaces.
- DON’T ignore symptoms, particularly if more than one person is feeling them. You could lose consciousness and die if you do nothing.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Home Controls offers several Carbon Monoxide alarms, from trusted manufacturers.
If the CO detector alarm goes off:
- Make sure it is your CO detector and not your smoke detector.
- Check to see if any member of the household is experiencing symptoms of poisoning.
- If they are, get them out of the house immediately and seek medical attention. Tell the doctor that you suspect CO poisoning.
- If no one is feeling symptoms, ventilate the home with fresh air, turn off all potential sources of CO – your oil or gas furnace, gas water heater, gas range and oven, gas dryer, gas or kerosene space heater and any vehicle or small engine.
- Have a qualified technician inspect your fuel-burning appliances and chimneys to make sure they are operating correctly and that there is nothing blocking the fumes from being vented out of the house.