More than 150 people in the US die every year from the “invisible killer,” carbon monoxide (CO) gas!
CO poisoning can occur when a fuel-burning appliance or machine, such as a furnace, heater or generator, is not working or vented properly. Breathing in CO at high levels can be fatal.
Because carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas and is undetectable to human senses, people may not know that they are being exposed. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are like the flu (but without the fever). They include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness.
High level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscle coordination, and loss of consciousness … resulting in death.
Protecting your family from carbon monoxide poisoning is a simple process:
- Install CO alarms in central locations outside each separate sleeping areas and on every level of the home.
- Use portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from all doors, windows and vents.
- Make sure that vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow and other debris.
- Test your CO detectors monthly to make sure they are still operational. Press the “test” button for two to three seconds. When the alarm beep sounds, release the button. If there is no beep, replace the batteries and test again. If it still doesn’t sound an alarm, replace the unit.
- Maintain the CO detectors by changing batteries whenever you adjust your clocks for daylight savings time (twice a year).
- CO alarms do not last forever. The detecting components will lose their effectiveness after 5 to 7 years and may no longer detect carbon monoxide. It is recommended that CO detectors be replaced after five years.