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Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning results in more than 500 fatalities and 15,200 visits to hospital emergency rooms each year in the United States. Here are some quick actions you can take to safeguard yourself from the deadly fumes of carbon monoxide.

Comprehending the risk

Carbon monoxide: What is it?

An odorless, colorless, and toxic gas, carbon monoxide. CO can kill you before you realize it's in your home because you can't see, taste, or smell the toxic fumes. When exposed at lower doses, cO has mild side effects that are frequently mistaken for the flu. Headaches, lightheadedness, disorientation, fatigue, and nausea are some of these symptoms. Depending on factors like age, general health, exposure concentration, and exposure duration, the effects of CO exposure can differ greatly from person to person.

What are the origins of carbon monoxide?

Gas-fired appliances, charcoal grills, wood-burning fireplaces, motor vehicles, and other sources are all potential sources of CO gas.

Who is in danger?

CO poisoning is a possibility for everyone. According to medical professionals, those who are pregnant, young children, seniors, infants, and people with heart or lung conditions are even more vulnerable to CO poisoning.

If the carbon monoxide alarm goes off what should I do?

Whether or not someone is feeling sick will determine what you need to do if your carbon monoxide alarm sounds.

If no one is affected: 

  • Turn off the alarm.
  • Switch off all devices and combustion sources. (such as a furnace or fireplace)
  • Open windows and doors to let fresh air into the home.
  • To find out where the potential CO build-up is coming from, contact an expert.

If someone is feeling ill:

  • Please immediately evacuate all occupants.
  • Ascertain the number of sick residents and their symptoms.
  • When you call your local emergency number, be sure to tell the dispatcher how many people are sick.
  • Without the permission of a fire department official, do not enter the house again.
  • Hire a qualified professional to fix the CO's source.

Protect yourself and your family

Install at least one carbon monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal outside each bedroom and close to any sleeping areas that have been tested by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Carbon monoxide alarms monitor CO levels over time and are intended to sound an alert before symptoms would be felt by a normal, healthy adult. It's very possible that when you hear the alarm, you won't be feeling any symptoms. This does not imply that there is no CO.

  • All fuel-burning devices, furnaces, venting systems, and chimney systems should be inspected by a qualified professional at least once per year.
  • Never use a charcoal grill or hibachi in your house or garage, and never use your range or oven to heat your house.
  • Never leave a running vehicle in a garage. Even with the garage doors open, regular air circulation won't be sufficient to consistently stop a risky CO buildup.
  • Have a qualified technician inspect the cooking and heating systems, as well as the sealed spaces between the garage and the house, before you buy an existing home. In the event of a CO buildup, having a carbon monoxide alarm in your home can save your life.


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