2011 Safety Tip
Each year in
America, unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning claims more than 400
lives and sends another 20,000 people to hospital emergency rooms for
The United States Fire Administration
(USFA) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) would like
you to know that there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself
from deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
What is carbon monoxide?
- Carbon monoxide is an odorless,
colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell
the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your
- At lower levels of exposure,
CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms
include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. The
effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending
on age, overall health and the concentration and length of exposure.
Where does carbon monoxide
- CO gas can come from several
sources: gas-fired appliances, charcoal grills, wood-burning furnaces
or fireplaces and motor vehicles.
Who is at risk?
- Everyone is at risk for
CO poisoning. Medical experts believe that unborn babies, infants, children,
senior citizens and people with heart or lung problems are at even greater
risk for CO poisoning.
What Actions Do I Take if My
Carbon Monoxide Alarm Goes Off?
- What you need to do if your
carbon monoxide alarm goes off depends on whether anyone is feeling
ill or not.
- If no one is feeling
- Silence the alarm.
- Turn off all appliances
and sources of combustion (i.e. furnace and fireplace).
- Ventilate the house
with fresh air by opening doors and windows.
- Call a qualified
professional to investigate the source of the possible CO buildup.
- If illness is a factor:
- Evacuate all occupants
- Determine how many
occupants are ill and determine their symptoms.
- Call your local
emergency number and when relaying information to the dispatcher,
include the number of people feeling ill.
- Do not re-enter
the home without the approval of a fire department representative.
- Call a qualified
professional to repair the source of the CO.
Protect Yourself and Your Family
from CO Poisoning
- Install at least one carbon
monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal near the sleeping areas
and outside individual bedrooms.
- Make sure the alarm has
been evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters
Laboratories (UL). Carbon monoxide alarms measure levels of CO over
time and are designed to sound an alarm before an average, healthy adult
would experience symptoms. It is very possible that you may not be experiencing
symptoms when you hear the alarm. This does not mean that CO is not
- Have a qualified professional
check all fuel burning appliances, furnaces, venting and chimney systems
at least once a year.
- Never use your range or
oven to help heat your home and never use a charcoal grill or hibachi
in your home or garage.
- Never keep a car running
in a garage. Even if the garage doors are open, normal circulation will
not provide enough fresh air to reliably prevent a dangerous buildup
- When purchasing an existing
home, have a qualified technician evaluate the integrity of the heating
and cooking systems, as well as the sealed spaces between the garage
The presence of a carbon monoxide
alarm in your home can save your life in the event of CO buildup.