Monday, December 8, 2014

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Tips to Keep You Safe

Make sure you have a CO Detector
Each year in America, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning claims more than 500 lives and sends roughly 40,000 people to hospital emergency rooms for treatment. While these numbers are scary, there are ways to prevent CO poisoning.

So as the weather turns chilly throughout much of the country, the Texas Poison Center Network wants to remind everyone to have a professional inspection of all fuel-burning heating systems - including furnaces, boilers, fireplaces, water heaters and space heaters - to detect any potentially deadly carbon monoxide (CO) leaks in your home.

Did you know that under certain conditions, all appliances that burn fuels can leak deadly CO? These fuels include kerosene; oil; coal; both natural and liquefied petroleum gas; and wood. By having a professional inspection of your fuel-burning heating appliances, you will be ahead of the game in protecting your family from the silent killer, CO poisoning.

Make sure the professional inspection includes checking chimneys, flues and vents for leakage and blockage by debris. Birds, other animals and insects sometimes can nest in vents and block exhaust gases, causing the gases to enter the home. In addition, all vents to furnaces, water heaters, boilers and other fuel-burning heating appliances should be checked to make sure they are not loose or disconnected.


Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue.

  • Install at least one UL (Underwriters Laboratories) listed carbon monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal near the sleeping areas and outside individual bedrooms. Carbon monoxide alarms measure levels of CO over time and are designed to sound an alarm before an average, healthy adult would experience symptoms. It is very possible that you may not be experiencing symptoms when you hear the alarm. This does not mean that CO is not present.
  • Never use your range or oven to help heat your home and never use a charcoal grill or hibachi in your home or garage.
  • Never keep a car running in a garage. Even if the garage doors are open, normal circulation will not provide enough fresh air to reliably prevent a dangerous buildup of CO.
  • When purchasing an existing home, have a qualified technician evaluate the integrity of the heating and cooking systems, as well as the sealed spaces between the garage and house.


If no one is feeling ill:
1.      Silence the alarm.

2.      Turn off all appliances and sources of combustion (i.e. furnace and fireplace).
3.      Ventilate the house with fresh air by opening doors and windows.
4.      Call a qualified professional to investigate the source of the possible CO buildup.

If illness is a factor:
1.      Evacuate all occupants immediately.

2.      Determine how many occupants are ill and determine their symptoms.
3.      Call 9-1-1 and when relaying information to the dispatcher, include the number of people feeling ill.
4.      Do not re-enter the home without the approval of a fire department representative.
5.      Call a qualified professional to repair the source of the CO.

Here’s One Family’s Story:

In Temple on October 29th, a family sat down to eat dinner.  Their CO detector went off, so they immediately evacuated the house and called 911.  The Temple fire department responded and went through the house and tested the levels of CO.  They determined that the levels of CO in the house were so high that it could have killed or severely injured the family very quickly.  They lived in a rental property and the source was their stove….but the thing that saved them was a working CO detector.

Remember: Carbon monoxide poisoning IS preventable! Make sure to protect yourself and your family by being prepared and aware. If you think you might have carbon monoxide poisoning, please call the Poison Control Network at 1-800-222-1222. If someone is having life threatening reactions, please do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1.

No comments:

Post a Comment