Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
- The dangers of CO exposure depend on a number of variables, including the victim’s health and activity level. Infants, pregnant women, and people with physical conditions that limit their body’s ability to use oxygen (i.e. emphysema, asthma, heart disease) can be more severely affected by lower concentrations of CO than healthy adults would be.
- A person can be poisoned by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount of time.
- CO alarms should be installed outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.
- It is best to use interconnected alarms. When one sounds, all alarms in the home sound.
- Follow the instructions on the package to properly install the CO alarm.
- Test CO alarms at least once a month.
- Replace CO alarms 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 CO 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. Call the fire department from a fresh air location. Stay there until help arrives.
PREVENT CO POISONING
- When warming a vehicle, move it out of the garage. Do not run a fueled engine indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not blocked. Clear snow away.
- During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
- Clear all debris from dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace vents.
- A generator should be used outdoors. Use in a well-ventilated location away from windows, doors, and vent openings.
- Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO. Only use them outside.
- Have heating equipment and chimneys inspected by a professional every year before cold weather sets in.
- Open the damper when using a fireplace for adequate ventilation.
- Never use your oven or stove to heat your home.