What is Carbon Monoxide and where does it come from?

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless gas that comes from burning fossil fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, propane, oil and natural gas. When these fuels burn incompletely, CO is produced.

Home heating and cooking appliances can produce CO if damaged or misused. Vehicles such as cars, trucks, tractors and lawn mowers are also a source of CO.

What are the effects of Carbon Monoxide exposure?

Carbon Monoxide replaces the oxygen that is in your bloodstream; this can lead to suffocation. Flu-like symptoms are an early indication of mild CO poisoning. More serious exposure can lead to difficulty breathing and eventually death.

Those most at risk for poisoning are the very young (4 years old or younger) and the elderly (75 years old and older).

How do I protect my family from Carbon monoxide poisoning?

Have all heating equipment inspected and serviced each year and know the proper use and maintenance of household cooking equipment.

Have your vehicle checked for exhaust leaks.

Do not run motors indoors, even if garage doors are open. Never warm up your vehicle in the garage. Start your car, pull it outside and away from the house, and leave the garage door open to allow the exhaust to dissipate.

Inspect and repair chimneys, fireplaces, wood stove, and etc. each year before cold weather sets in.

Be sure your heating equipment has an adequate supply of fresh air for combustion.

Open the flue when using the fireplace to ensure adequate ventilation.

Gas or charcoal barbeque grills can produce lethal levels of CO. never use them indoors or in the garage, even if the garage doors are opened.

What about Carbon Monoxide detectors?

Carbon Monoxide detectors measure the amount of CO gas that has accumulated. Current CO detectors will alarm when the concentrations of CO in the air are equal to or above 10% carboxyhemoglobin level a person’s blood stream. This sensitivity may cause the detector to alarm to sound before any symptoms appear.

When buying a CO detector, purchase only units that have been tested by qualified testing laboratories.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and use of your CO detector in your home. Consideration should be given to location of known possible sources of CO such as the garage, kitchen and the furnace room. Placement of the CO detector in these areas will only shorten the life of the sensor and cause additional unnecessary alarms. Placement near or in the sleeping area is the most ideal location; this is meant to wake you in the event of an alarm condition.

Test your CO detector once a month along with your smoke detectors. Replace your CO detector every two years, or as recommended by the manufacturer.