Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that is completely invisible and can affect you without your knowledge. It is produced by the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels, such as gasoline, coal, oil, natural gas, propane, coke and wood. It is known as the Silent Killer. Gas stoves, fires, heating boilers, gas-powered water heaters, paraffin heaters, and solid fuel-powered water heaters are all potential sources of carbon monoxide.
Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires. More than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized. Carbon monoxide is a silent and deadly danger, and takes thousands of lives all around the world each year.
The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headaches, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as “flu like.” If you breathe in a lot of CO it can make you pass out or kill you. Once carbon monoxide has been breathed in, it replaces the oxygen in the blood, thus killing off cells and starving vital organs of oxygen. A large enough dose of this odorless, colorless and tasteless gas can kill within minutes.
Here are some handy Safety Tips to stay safe from Carbon Monoxide this winter:
- Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from the home
- Make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of debris
- Have fuel-burning equipment and chimneys inspected by a professional each year
- Never use an oven or stovetop to heat your home
- Don’t leave vehicle engines idling in the garage, even if the garage door is open
- Choose a carbon-monoxide alarm with the label of a recognized testing laboratory
- Install and maintain carbon-monoxide alarms outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home
- Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions
- Change the batteries in your CO detector every six months
If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the building is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrive.
For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the building. When one sounds, they all sound. If you don’t have a battery-powered or battery back-up CO detector, buy one soon.
CO poisoning is entirely preventable. Protect yourself and your family by acting wisely in case of a power outage and learning the symptoms of CO poisoning. Call Fire Control Systems for any alarm needs.