Carbon Monoxide Safety

Each year in America, unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning claims more than 500 lives and sends another 15,000 people to hospital emergency rooms for treatment.

Here are simple steps you can take to protect yourself from deadly carbon monoxide fumes from the United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Understanding the Risk
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. The effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending on age, overall health and the concentration and length of exposure.

Where does carbon monoxide come from?
CO gas can come from several sources:
  • Gas-fired appliances
  • Charcoal grills
  • Wood-burning furnaces
  • Fireplaces
  • Motor vehicles.
Who is at risk?
Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning. Medical experts believe that unborn babies, infants, children, senior citizens and people with heart or lung problems are at even greater risk for CO poisoning.

Safety Tips
  • Install CO alarms inside your home to provide early warning of carbon monoxide.
  • CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
  • Combination smoke and CO alarms must be installed in accordance with requirements for smoke alarms.
  • Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
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