Courtesy of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, article link:
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a gas. It has no odor. CO gas is poisonous. It can make a person feel sick and can be deadly. In the home, heating and cooking devices that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.
- Co Alarms should be installed outside each sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. It is best to use interconnected alarms. When one sounds, all CO alarms in the home sound.
- Follow the instructions on the package to properly install the CO alarm
- Test alarms at least once a month
- Replace CO alarm according to the instructions on the package
- Know the sounds the CO alarm makes. It will sound if CO is detected. It will make a different sound if the battery is low or if it is time to get a new alarm
- If the battery is low, replace it.
- If the CO alarm sounds, you must get fresh air. Move outdoors, by an open window or near an open door. Make sure everyone in the home gets to fresh air. Dial 911 from a fresh air location and remain outside until help arrives
PREVENTING CO POISIONING
- When warming a vehicle, move it out of the garage. Do not run a fueled engine indoors, even if the garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not blocked. Clear snow away.
- During and after a snow storm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fire place are clear of snow build-up
- Clear all debris from dryer, furnace, stove, and fire place are clear of snow build-up
- A generator should be used outdoors. Use in a well-ventilated location away from windows, doors, and vent openings
- Have heating equipment and chimneys inspected by a professional before cold weather starts to set in
- Open the damper when using a fire place for adequate ventilation
- Never use your oven or stove to heat your home
Protect Your Family from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Have your home heating systems (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually by a trained service technician.
- Never use portable generators inside homes or garages, even if doors and windows are open. Use generators outside only, far away from the home.
- Never bring a charcoal grill into the house for heating or cooking. Do not barbeque in the garage.
- Never use a gas range or oven for heating.
- Open the fireplace damper before lighting a fire and keep it open until the ashes are cool. An open damper may help prevent build-up of poisonous gases inside the home.
- Install battery-operated CO alarms or CO alarms with battery backup in your home outside separate sleeping areas.
- Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and confusion.
- If you suspect CO poisoning, get outside to fresh air immediately, and then call 911.
Know the Symptoms of CO Poisoning
- Because CO is odorless, colorless, and otherwise undetectable to the human senses, people may not know that they are being exposed. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include:
- Shortness of breath
- High level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including:
- Mental confusion
- Loss of muscular coordination
- Loss of consciousness
- Ultimately death
- Symptom severity is related to both the CO level and the duration of exposure. For slowly developing residential CO problems, occupants and/or physicians can mistake mild to moderate CO poisoning symptoms for the flu, which sometimes results in tragic deaths.
- For rapidly developing, high level CO exposures (e.g., associated with use of generators in residential spaces), victims can rapidly become mentally confused, and can lose muscle control without having first experienced milder symptoms; they will likely die if not rescued.