Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, deadly gas. Because you can’t see, taste or smell it, CO is known as the silent killer. Like any fuel, natural gas needs enough oxygen from combustion air to burn safely and completely. Without enough oxygen, the burn is incomplete and CO results.
CO is easily absorbed into the bloodstream, displacing oxygen, eventually resulting in brain damage or death. Dangerous levels of CO can especially affect unborn babies, infants and people with anemia or a history of heart disease.
What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
Physical symptoms of CO poisoning vary, depending on the amount of CO absorbed into the bloodstream.
Rapid heart rate
What to do if you suspect CO in your home or business:
- Leave the premises and get fresh air immediately.
- Call 9-1-1 or 448-4800.
- If experiencing the flu-like symptoms of CO poisoning, seek medical attention.
- Call your heating fuel supplier or a licensed heating contractor for an emergency inspection.
- Do not return to your home or business until the source of CO has been discovered and the problem has been corrected.
How do I reduce the risk of CO poisoning?
You can prevent CO poisoning through proper appliance installation, maintenance and use. Follow these steps to protect you and your family.
- Install a CO detector on every floor of your home, especially near sleeping areas.
- When purchasing a CO detector, be sure it conforms to Underwriters Laboratories standard (UL) 2034 or is American Gas Association certified.
- Follow the manufacturer’s installation and maintenance instructions.
- Be sure there’s a test button to verify that the detector is working.
- Have a qualified professional annually inspect your heating and cooling equipment. The contractor should check appliance vents for corrosion and blockage. The appliance itself should be checked for cleanliness, proper adjustment and approved connectors.
- After hail storms, have a qualified contractor check your vent cap for damage. Failure to inspect appliance vent caps could cause appliances to vent improperly, causing carbon monoxide readings inside your home. Also, check your electric and gas meters for damage.
- Never operate a vehicle, lawn mower, snow blower or other fuel burning equipment in an attached garage, even with the door open.
- Do not use your gas range or oven for heat. Never burn charcoal indoors.
- Make sure your clothes dryer is properly vented and free of lint.
- When you have a fire going in your fireplace, crack open a window a couple inches to allow for adequate outside air for combustion.
- When camping, do not operate a fuel-burning heater, lantern, or stove inside your tent or camper without proper ventilation. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
If you suspect your carbon monoxide alarm is not working properly, call us for a check at 448-4800.