Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

Carbon monoxide (CO) is also known as the “Invisible Killer.” The poisonous gas is odorless and colorless, providing no warning to those surrounded by it.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 150 people in the U.S. die every year from accidental, non-fire related CO poisoning. Follow these three safety tips to protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning:

#1 – Provide proper maintenance to fuel-burning appliances.

To eliminate the chance of CO building up, make sure to have your fuel-burning appliances checked annually by a professional. You should also never heat your home with a gas burning oven, sleep in a room with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater, or use a charcoal grill indoors. Most importantly, never let your car idle in the garage, even with the door open. During the colder months we often start our car before we plan to leave, resulting in CO gas. When you leave your home and close the garage door, the CO gas will become trapped inside your garage, leaving the possibility for it to enter your home. If other family members are still in the home, this puts them at a huge risk for inhaling the CO gas.

Also, check the outside of your home for debris – or snow during the colder months – that may be covering vents for your dryer, furnace, stove, or fireplace.

#2 – Install carbon monoxide detectors.

The #1 thing you can to do protect your family against carbon monoxide poisoning is to have a CO detector installed. A CO detector will alert you when CO gas builds up in your home at an unsafe level. If the alarm sounds, you will need to take action immediately.

Placement of the detector will depend on the layout and size of your home. They should be battery-operated or include a battery backup to ensure they’re always working.

#3 – Get out immediately.

If your CO alarm does go off or you’re experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning (see below), exit your home immediately. Once you’re outside, make sure all other family members have exited the home and call 911 or your local fire department. The responders will be able to test your home and make sure it is safe for you to enter. Do not re-enter your home until an emergency responder has tested the air and confirmed it is safe.

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

These symptoms may appear to be similar to the flu, but there will be no fever present.

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

High level CO poisoning includes the following, more severe symptoms:

  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of muscular coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Ultimately death