Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips// on Tuesday March 1, 2016
As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, carbon monoxide (CO) is a “colorless, odorless, tasteless toxic gas produced by incomplete combustion in fuel-burning devices such as motor vehicles, gas-powered furnaces, and portable generators.” Poisoning of this kind can be fatal if it goes undetected, and is most prevalent during the cold winter months. In fact, nearly half of all accidental carbon monoxide deaths occurring in the first three months of the year.
Review the following information to help minimize the risk of potential CO exposure.
Know the carbon monoxide warning signs and take action
- If you experience flu-like symptoms (headache, nausea, dizziness, or confusion) and suspect carbon monoxide exposure, get fresh air immediately; and see a physician.
- Have your home tested for carbon monoxide before returning to your house.
- If the alarm on a carbon monoxide detector goes off, never ignore it. Get fresh air immediately, and call the local fire department or 911.
Install carbon monoxide detectors and keep them maintained
- Carbon monoxide detectors should have an audible alarm and meet current guidelines, such as the Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) standards. It also should carry a long-term warranty.
- Experts recommend installing a carbon monoxide detector with an audible alarm inside your home and garage.
- In the home, place a detector in the hallway as near as possible to the sleeping areas. For additional protection, also place a detector near the furnace.
- Test your carbon monoxide detectors, and replace the batteries regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Each of the following is a potential source of carbon monoxide. Minimize hazards with regular inspections, service, and careful use:
- Appliances: Clothes dryers, gas ranges, ovens.
- Have qualified professionals install all appliances according to manufacturers’ instructions and local building codes.
- Do not try to service fuel-burning appliances on your own without proper expertise.
- Do not try to heat your home with an oven or gas range.
- Heating systems: Fireplace, furnace, water heater, wood and coal-burning stoves, camp stoves and portable space heaters.
- Once a year, have your home’s heating system (including furnace, chimney, flue and vents) inspected and serviced.
- The furnace should have adequate intake of outside air.
- The chimney and flue should be inspected for blockage, corrosion, and poor connections. (Also see this Chimney and Fireplace Safety resource.)
- Do not burn charcoal inside of a home, garage, cabin, vehicle, or camper.
- Do not use portable fuel-burning camp stove and other outside equipment inside a home, garage, tent, or camper.
- Do not use portable kerosene and gas heaters without proper ventilation.
- Gas-powered lawn mowers and tools: Do not operate a lawn mower or other gas-powered equipment in an enclosed area such as a garage or basement.
- Running car engines: Do not leave a car or other vehicle running in the garage, even with the garage door open.
Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home, and check it regularly to ensure it is in working order, to help keep you and your family protected from carbon monoxide poisoning.