Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas produced any time you burn fuel, such as in a car, small engine, stove, lantern, space heater, fireplace, or furnace. It can build up in an indoor space and poison the people and animals who breathe it. People who inhale CO, especially infants, the elderly, and people with breathing problems, can get severely ill or die from it. 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.
How Can I Prevent CO Poisoning?
Check your appliances to ensure that the flame color is blue. If it is orange, contact the fire department immediately.
Have a professional do a safety inspection annually on all of your appliances, chimney and grill to make sure they are in safe working order.
Have a professional inspect your fireplace flue annually and remove birds’ nests and foliage from the flue area. Also, install a guard to prevent birds from nesting around this area.
Operate grills outside of your home and garage. NEVER use a gas or charcoal grill indoors or in an enclosed space.
Do not leave your car running in an attached garage, even if the door is open.
Never rely on ranges, ovens, gas grills or clothes dryers to heat your home.
Never operate fuel-burning items such as space heaters and lawn mowers in closed rooms.
If you or other family members are feeling ill frequently at home, leave for several hours to see if your symptoms go away. If so, you may all be suffering from CO poisoning. Have a service person inspect your appliances to see if they are working properly to eliminate CO as a possible culprit.
In addition to a smoke detector, install a CO detector on every level of your home. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and place away from furniture and curtains to get accurate detection results. They should also not be placed directly above or beside fuel-burning appliances, which can emit a small amount of CO on startup. CO detectors can be purchased at most big box, department, and hardware stores for $15 – $50, depending on the features. You can also purchase combination smoke/CO detectors.
Not only can installing CO detectors provide safety and peace of mind, it can sometimes qualify you for a discount on your homeowner’s insurance policy. You can learn more about selecting and installing a CO detection system on HomeSafe.com.