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Home Maintenance Tip: Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning with a CO Alarm

Posted on November 21, 2014

Carbon monoxide poisoning claims the lives of an average of 439 people each year and another 20,000 make emergency room visits. Don’t let this be you.Carbon monoxide poisoning is totally preventable. Are you doing all you can to protect yourself and your family?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless and colorless gas that is created when using combustible fuels such as natural gas, gasoline, propane, oil, wood and coal. These fuels always burn incompletely creating carbon monoxide as a byproduct.

CO exposure can come from a variety of combustible fuel appliances such as central gas furnaces, gas ranges or cooktops, gas dryers, gas water heaters, propane fireplaces and wood-burning fireplaces and stoves. It is important to make sure that combustible fuel appliances are vented correctly because CO can build up in the home.

People and animals can be poisoned by breathing CO. Symptoms include but are not limited to the following: headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue and confusion. Children and people with chronic illnesses are the most susceptible to CO poisoning.

Prevent CO poisoning by following these guidelines:

  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm outside bedrooms and on every floor of the house is important.
  • Interconnect the CO alarms so that when one alarm goes off, they all go off.
  • Test your carbon monoxide alarm monthly. Replace batteries annually at the same time you replace your smoke detector batteries.
  • Have your gas furnace checked by a licensed heating and air conditioning contractor each year.
  • Make sure that all gas appliances are vented to the exterior.
  • Keep all vents free and clear of snow or debris.
  • Have your chimney cleaned so that debris is not blocking the release of carbon monoxide.
  • If you even suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, call for help immediately and leave the premises.

During winter storms, people may be tempted to misuse combustible fuel appliances. Never do any of the following:

  • Never run your car in the garage even if the garage door is open. Carbon monoxide can be back-drafted into your house from the garage.
  • Never use a generator inside the house or garage or near windows, doors or vent opening.
  • Never use gas grills or camping stoves inside the house or garage.
  • Never burn anything in a fireplace or stove that is not vented to the exterior.
  • Never use a gas oven to heat the house.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors.

Keep your family safe by installing CO alarms. Use caution with all combustible fuel appliances. If in doubt, don’t do it! Teach your family how to be safe when it comes to carbon monoxide.


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