The Silent Killer: Carbon Monoxide
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 150 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by consumer products.
This includes defective products and improper use of products like stoves, heaters, furnaces, and fireplaces.
Here are some facts that can help you avoid being a victim of the “silent killer”.
What is it? Carbon monoxide (CO) is called the silent killer because it’s invisible and has no smell or taste. When things like gasoline, kerosene, coal, natural gas, methane, propane, or wood don’t burn properly, they can create carbon monoxide.
Where does it come from?
Faulty heaters, furnaces, portable generators, clothes dryers, water heaters can all generate carbon monoxide. Another source is cars (in closed spaces).
What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
Headache, nausea, and drowsiness are signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. At high levels, carbon monoxide can be fatal.
How do I protect my home from carbon monoxide?
By installing CO alarms you can have an early warning before the carbon monoxide gets to a dangerous level. These alarms should be placed outside each bedroom, on every level of the house. It’s also best to connect all the alarms so if one goes off, they all do. Carbon monoxide alarms should be used together with smoke alarms. You should be able to distinguish between the two types of alarms.
What other precautions should I take?
- It is a wise precaution to have a professional inspect your fireplace, wood stoves, furnaces, water heaters, and any other heaters you use – once every year.
- Never use your oven or stovetop to heat your home. The carbon monoxide gas might kill people and pets.
- When purchasing a new heating and cooking equipment, select products tested and labeled by a recognized testing laboratory.
- Open the damper for proper ventilation before using a fireplace.
- Make sure all fuel-burning vented equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the venting for exhaust unblocked.
- Make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris.
- Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from all doors, windows, vents, and other building openings to prevent exhaust fumes from entering the home.
- Only use barbecue grills outside, away from all doors, windows, vents, and other building openings. Some grills can produce CO gas. Never use grills inside the home or the garage, even if the doors are open.
- If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Never run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not blocked with snow, ice, or other materials. The carbon monoxide gas might kill people and pets.
What do I do if the carbon monoxide alarms sound?
- Get into the fresh air, either outside or to an open window. Make sure everyone in the house does the same.
- Call 911 and stay in the fresh air until the fire department arrives.
If you want more information on this or other fire and life safety topics, please contact Protegis Fire & Safety.