Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas produced by the combustion of fuels such as natural gas, oil, propane in devices including furnaces, water heaters and stoves. These appliances are designed to vent the CO to the outside, but improper installation, incomplete combustion of fuel, or blockages, leaks or cracks in venting systems can cause CO to reach harmful levels inside the home. Dangerously high levels of CO can lead to incapacitation or death, with victims sometimes never having been aware they were being poisoned.
Prevention and working alarms are key to avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Install CO alarms and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper location.
- Don’t use a gas stove or oven to heat the home, even temporarily.
- Have all fuel-burning appliances professionally inspected annually, including gas stoves and ovens, gas, pellet or wood-burning fireplaces, furnaces and heaters, water heaters and gas clothes dryers.
- All such devices should be properly installed and vented to the outside.
- Never start a vehicle in a closed garage or idle the engine in the garage even if the overhead door is open.
- Gasoline-powered generators and charcoal grills must never be used indoors.
- If using a generator, it should not be placed near the home. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper and safe location.
- Learn what to do if the CO alarm activates. If anyone in the home experiences symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, or confusion, everyone should leave immediately and seek medical attention. If no symptoms are felt, open doors and windows immediately and shut off all fuel-burning devices that may be potential sources of CO.
Keep your family safe and avoid an unnecessary tragedy.