Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips
Carbon monoxide, or “CO”, is found in fumes anytime you burn fuel in vehicles, small engines, stoves, grills, lanterns, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces.
The danger of CO poisoning greatly increases in the winter because your furnace and other fuel-burning appliances can emit the odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas. CO can buildup indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it. People often become ill before they realize something has gone wrong.
The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. If you breathe in a lot of CO it can make you pass out and/or kill you. The Centers for Disease control and prevention estimates that over 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires, and causes more than 20,000 visits to the emergency room each year.
How can you avoid the dangers of CO poisoning? Follow these tips to keep your home safe for you and your family.
Use CO detectors in your home. Install battery-operated or battery back-up CO detectors and check
or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks in spring and fall. CO detectors should be placed in areas that can wake you up if the alarm goes off. Remember to replace your CO detector every 5 years.
Get your furnace serviced. Have your heating system, water heater, boiler, and any other appliance that burns gas or oil serviced by a qualified technician every year.
Clean your chimney. If you have a wood stove or fireplace, make sure it is properly ventilated and able to draw smoke up the chimney. If it gets blocked, it can back up into your home.
Don’t make amateur repairs. If you find a leak in your HVAC system, call a qualified technician to do the repair. Patching up a leak with duct tape can make CO build up in your home.
Never use a generator inside your home, basement, garage, or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent.
Don’t leave the car running in the garage. Once you start the car, do not let it sit in the garage. CO gas can quickly accumulate.
In the event that your CO detector goes off, turn off your fuel burning appliances immediately, open all doors and windows, and have your family and pets evacuate the home. Call 9-1-1 and seek emergency medical assistance if anyone experiences the symptoms of CO poisoning listed above.