How to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Are You & Your Family Protected?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless and colorless gas. It's produced by appliances that burn gas, oil, kerosene, wood or wood products. If these appliances haven't been installed and maintained correctly, or if they're misused, carbon monoxide can build up inside the home to a dangerous, even deadly level.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that carbon monoxide poisoning claims nearly 500 lives and causes more than 15,000 visits to hospital emergency departments annually. Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America.
Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic flu symptoms – headache, weakness, dizziness, and nausea. Because of this, the deadly gas may go undetected in a home. Prolonged exposure can lead to brain damage and even death.
Tips to Reduce Your Risk of CO Poisoning
- Install a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home;
- Have your home heating system, chimney, and flue inspected and cleaned by a qualified technician every year;
- Be sure your furnace and other appliances, such as gas ovens, ranges, and cook tops, are inspected for adequate ventilation;
- Do not burn charcoal inside your house (even in the fireplace). Have gas fireplaces inspected each fall to ensure the pilot light burns safely;
- Do not operate gasoline-powered engines in confined areas such as garages or basements. Do not leave your car, mower, or other vehicle running in an attached garage, even with the door open;
- Never use a generator inside your home, basement, garage, or near a window, door, or vent;
- Never use a gas range or oven for heating or use a portable gas camp stove indoors.
If the CO monitor alarm sounds or you suspect CO poisoning, evacuate the building. People who have symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning should seek emergency medical care. Call the fire department or public service company to investigate.