1. What is carbon monoxide (CO) and how is it produced in the home?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of solid, liquid, and gaseous fuels. Appliances fueled with natural gas, liquified petroleum (LP gas), oil, kerosene, coal, or wood may produce CO. Burning charcoal produces CO. Running cars produce CO.
2. How many people are unintentionally poisoned by CO?
Every year, over 200 people in the United States die from CO produced by fuel-burning appliances (furnaces, ranges, water heaters, room heaters). Others die from CO produced while burning charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent. Still others die from CO produced by cars left running in attached garages. Several thousand people go to hospital emergency rooms for treatment for CO poisoning.
3. What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include:
Shortness of breath
Many people with CO poisoning mistake their symptoms for the flu or are misdiagnosed by physicians, which sometimes results in tragic deaths.
4. What should you do to prevent CO poisoning?
Make sure appliances are installed according to manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes. Most appliances should be installed by professionals. Have the heating system (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually. The inspector should also check chimneys and flues for blockages, corrosion, partial and complete disconnections, and loose connections.
Install a CO detector/alarm in the hallway near every separate sleeping area of the home. Make sure the detector cannot be covered up by furniture or draperies.
Never use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent.
Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.
Never service fuel-burning appliances without proper knowledge, skills, and tools.
Never use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens, or clothes dryers for heating your home.
Never operate unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room with closed doors or windows or in any room where people are sleeping.
Do not use gasoline-powered tools and engines indoors. If use is unavoidable, ensure that adequate ventilation is available and whenever possible place engine unit to exhaust outdoors.
5. What should you do if you are experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning?
If you think you are experiencing any of the symptoms of CO poisoning, get fresh air immediately.
Open windows and doors for more ventilation, turn off any combustion appliances, and leave the house.
Call your fire department and report your symptoms. You could lose consciousness and die if you do nothing. It is also important to contact a doctor immediately for a proper diagnosis. Tell your doctor that you suspect CO poisoning is causing your problems. Prompt medical attention is important if you are experiencing any symptoms of CO poisoning when you are operating fuel-burning appliances.
Before turning your fuel-burning appliances back on, make sure a qualified service person checks them for malfunction.
Our Goal: Everyone Goes Home Safe…Every Day!