Carbon Monoxide Safety

February 20th, 2013 by admin

  • Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. CO gases are created when heating elements that use natural gas, propane, wood, or oil (i.e. gas-fired appliances, charcoal grills, wood-burning furnaces or fireplaces, and motor vehicles) do not completely burn off their fuels.

    Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. The effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending on age, overall health and the concentration and length of exposure.

    What is the best protection against CO poisoning?
    The Center for Disease Control and the National Fire Protection Agency agree that having carbon monoxide detectors in the home is a family’s best line of defense against poisoning. Follow these tips to help protect your home from this deadly gas:

    • Only use CO detectors that have been approved by a qualified, independent testing laboratory.
    • Choose a centralized location outside of the family’s sleeping area to install the detector, making sure that its alarm can clearly be heard in each bedroom.
    • The sensors in CO devices do not last forever. Abide by the manufacturer’s suggested replacement interval.
    • Battery-powered detectors should receive new batteries once a year, unless the directions give a different time frame.
    • Perform a monthly test on all carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are powered and working.

    In addition . . .

    • Have a qualified professional check all fuel burning appliances, furnaces, venting and chimney systems at least once a year.
    • Never use your range or oven to help heat your home and never use a charcoal grill or hibachi in your home or garage.
    • Never keep a car running in a garage. Even if the garage doors are open, normal circulation will not provide enough fresh air to reliably prevent a dangerous buildup of CO.
    • When purchasing an existing home, have a qualified technician evaluate the integrity of the heating and cooking systems, as well as the sealed spaces between the garage and house.

    If a carbon monoxide alarm goes off . . .
    And no one is feeling ill:

    • Silence the alarm.
    • Turn off all appliances and sources of combustion (i.e. furnace and fireplace).
    • Ventilate the house with fresh air by opening doors and windows.
    • Call a qualified professional to investigate the source of the possible CO buildup.

    If illness is a factor:

    • Evacuate all occupants immediately.
    • Determine how many occupants are ill and determine their symptoms.
    • Call your local emergency number and when relaying information to the dispatcher, include the number of people feeling ill.
    • Do not re-enter the home without the approval of a fire department representative.
    • Call a qualified professional to repair the source of the CO.