Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide, or CO, a byproduct of incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, is a colorless, odorless gas. Breathing CO reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. In severe cases, CO can cause death.

Defective or malfunctioning fossil fuel appliances, or inappropriate use of appliances that burn fossil fuel close to or inside the home can pose a serious health hazard. Here are a few examples of dangerous operations:

  • Running an automobile or gas lawn mower inside the garage

  • Operating a barbeque inside the home

  • A gas or oil burning furnace with a blockage in the chimney

  • Kerosene space heaters

  • Operating a generator in the home during a power failure

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, weakness, chest pain, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to death. Low level poisoning may go unnoticed because it may be mistaken for the flu.

Carbon Monoxide Detector

You should have at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home. In some geographic areas, a CO detector is required by law. The CO detector should be placed where you can hear it if it goes off when you are asleep. A CO detector does not have to be placed on the ceiling, since unlike smoke, CO has approximately the same weight as air so it mixes

uniformly throughout the room rather than floating up to the ceiling. To avoid false alarms, do not install the detector next to heating and cooking appliances, vents, flues, or chimneys. Make sure you read and follow the operating, placement, and testing instructions that come with the detector.

If the carbon monoxide detector alarms, take it seriously.

Avoiding CO Poisoning

  • Have your heating systems serviced every year by a qualified technician.

  • Have your fireplace chimney cleaned and inspected every year.

  • Install at least one CO detector in your home and replace the batteries twice per year.

  • Open the garage door prior to starting your car; drive the car out promptly. Do not leave it idling in the garage. Do not use a remote car starter when the car is in the garage.

  • Do not use a charcoal or propane barbeque in the home.

If you are installing only one carbon monoxide (CO) detector, it should be located where you can hear it if it goes off when you are sleeping. For greater safety, multiple CO detectors can be installed throughout the home. Follow the instructions packaged with the detector.

Source: Pillar To Post Information Series