Carbon Monoxide Dangers...
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels including coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas.
Hundreds of Americans die every year from CO poisoning.
Because CO is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, people may not know that they are being exposed. The severity of symptoms is related to both the CO level and the duration of exposure. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu but without the fever.
- Shortness of breath
High-level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including:
- Mental confusion
- Loss of muscular coordination
- Loss of consciousness
- Possible death
To avoid CO poisoning, the most important precaution is to install a CO alarm that meets the requirements of the current UL 2034 safety standards. A CO detector/alarm can provide protection, but it is not a substitute for proper use of appliances that can produce CO.
Other precautions to take include:
- Making sure appliances are installed and operated according to the manufacturer's instructions and local building codes. Most appliances should be installed by qualified professionals.
- Have your heating system professionally inspected and serviced annually to ensure proper operation.
- Check chimneys and flues for blockages, corrosion, partial and complete disconnections, and loose connections.
- Never service fuel-burning appliances without proper knowledge, skill, and tools. Always refer to the owners manual when performing minor adjustments or servicing fuel-burning equipment.
- Never operate a portable generator or any other gasoline engine-powered tool either in or near an enclosed space such as a garage, house, or other building. Even with open doors and windows, these spaces can trap CO and allow it to quickly build to lethal levels.
- Never use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent unless it is specifically designed for use in an enclosed space and provides instructions for safe use in an enclosed area.
- Never burn charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent.
- Never leave a car running in an attached garage - even with the garage door open.
- Never use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens, or clothes dryers to heat your home.
- Never operate unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room where people are sleeping.
- Do not cover the bottom of natural gas or propane ovens with aluminum foil. Doing so blocks the combustion air flow through the appliance and can produce CO.
- During home renovations, ensure that appliance vents and chimneys are not blocked by tarps or debris. Make sure appliances are in proper working order when renovations are complete.
When appliances that burn fuel are maintained and used properly, the amount of CO produced is usually not hazardous. Installing a CO detector in your home and taking proper precautions by ensuring that all your appliances are working properly and are used correctly can prevent dangerous levels of CO from accumulating in your home.