Say No to CO
Don’t invite the silent killer into your home
Is your home safe from carbon monoxide (CO)? CO is a gas that is generated by the combustion of gas-fed items in and around your home, such as appliances, furnaces and cars. A build-up of CO can occur if a gas-fed item malfunctions or is poorly ventilated.
This colorless, odorless gas can become deadly when homes are tightly closed, particularly in winter. It can be harmful or fatal to pets, as well as people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that each year, carbon monoxide kills more than 400 Americans, sends 20,000 people to the emergency room and results in more than 4,000 hospitalizations.
Know the Signs
How do you recognize the effects of CO in your home? A person suffering from CO poisoning may experience symptoms such as dizziness, headache, weakness, confusion or nausea. While these symptoms may sound similar to the flu, CO poisoning does not include fever and the symptoms improve after leaving the area. If high levels of CO are inhaled, loss of consciousness or even death can result.
If you suspect a problem with CO in your home, all people and pets should leave immediately. Call 911 from a cell phone or a neighbor’s home.
The Middletown Fire Department received 12 calls last winter for legitimate CO problems. “It’s recommended that you have at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home,” says Deputy Chief Brent Dominy of the Middletown Fire Department. “Place the detectors near bedrooms and other areas where people sleep. Additional detectors can be placed near gas appliances, such as furnaces.”
CO detectors do have a shelf life, so they should be tested regularly. “Batteries should be replaced with each time change,” Deputy Chief Dominy adds. “And the unit should be replaced according to the manufacturer’s instructions.”
Everyday items that could potentially produce CO if they are malfunctioning or if they aren’t well ventilated include:
- Gas furnace
- Charcoal grill used without proper ventilation
- Gas (kerosene or propane) space heater
- Gas water heater
- Gas stove
- Gas clothes dryer
- Gas generator
If you hear your carbon monoxide detector alarm, leave your home immediately and call 911. Be sure your home is checked out to confirm you don’t have a problem before you go back inside.