January 2009 Safety Tip

 

THE "SENSELESS" KILLER, CAN YOU TELL WHAT IT IS?


Every year, nearly 300 people in the United States die from this toxic gas.

Can you tell - can you smell - what gas it is?

THE ANSWER

The poisonous gas that kills nearly 300 people in their homes each year has no smell. What's more, it has no taste and no color.

The gas is carbon monoxide or "CO", and it is truly a "senseless" killer.

WHAT IS CARBON MONOXIDE?

Carbon monoxide is produced by burning any fuel. Therefore, any fuel-burning appliance in your home is a potential CO source.

When appliances are kept in good working condition, they produce little CO. Improperly operating appliances can produce fatal CO concentrations in your home. Likewise, using charcoal indoors or running a car in a garage can cause CO poisoning.

SYMPTOMS OF CO POISONING

Carbon monoxide poisoning can kill you. The initial symptoms of CO are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Irregular breathing

Remember, if you have any of these symptoms and if you feel better when you go outside your home and the symptoms reappear once you're back inside, you may have CO poisoning.

CLUES YOU CAN SEE

These are signs you can look for:

  • Rusting or water streaking on vent/chimney
  • Loose or missing furnace panel
  • Sooting
  • Loose or disconnected vent/chimney connections
  • Debris or soot falling from chimney, fireplace, or appliance
  • Loose masonry on chimney
  • Moisture inside of windows

CLUES YOU CANNOT SEE

  • Internal appliance damage or malfunctioning components
  • Improper burner adjustment
  • Hidden blockage or damage in chimneys

SOURCES OF CARBON MONOXIDE

  • Room Heater
  • Furnace
  • Charcoal grill
  • Range
  • Water Heater
  • Auto in closed garage
  • Fireplace

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  • Make sure appliances are installed according to manufacturer's instructions and local building codes. Most appliances should be installed by professionals.
  • Have the heating system (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually.
  • Follow manufacturer's directions for safe operation.
  • Examine vents and chimneys regularly for improper connections, visible rust or stains.
  • Notice problems that could indicate improper appliance operation:
    • Decreasing
    • hot water supply
    • Furnace unable to heat house or runs constantly
    • Sooting, especially on appliances
    • Unfamiliar or burning odor
INSTALL A CO DETECTOR FOR ADDED SAFETY
(Must meet the requirements of UL 2034)

WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT DO

  • Never burn charcoal indoors or in a garage. Never service appliances without proper knowledge, skills, and tools.
  • Never use the gas range or oven for heating
  • Never leave a car running in a garage.
  • Never operate unvented gas-burning appliances in a closed room.

For similar and additional information from the Carbon Monoxide Kills Organization, based in the United Kingdom, please click on the logo to the left.

Information Sources

The above information is from the Consumer Product Safety Commission's publication,
CPSC Document #464

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission protects the public from the unreasonable risk of injury or death from 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, you can go to CPSC's forms page and use the first on-line form on that page. Or, you can call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270, or send the information to info@cpsc.gov. Consumers can obtain this publication and additional publication information from the Publications section of CPSC's web site or by sending your publication request to publications@cpsc.gov. If you would like to receive CPSC's recall notices, subscribing to the email list will send all press releases to you the day they are issued.

This document is in the public domain. It may be reproduced without change in part or whole by an individual or organization without permission. If it is reproduced, however, the Commission would appreciate knowing how it is used. Write the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Office of Information and Public Affairs, Washington, D.C. 20207 or send an e-mail to info@cpsc.gov. An e-mail notification was sent from Maricopa County Risk Management to the CPSC on 4 December 2002.


Permission for use the "Carbon Monoxide Kills" logo as a weblink was granted in 2000 and 2001 by Mr. Mike Genoah, Webmaster for the "Carbon Monoxide Kills Organization."