Carbon monoxide, or CO, a byproduct of incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, is a colorless, odorless gas. Breathing CO reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. In severe cases, CO can cause death. Defective or malfunctioning fossil fuel appliances, or inappropriate use of appliances that burn fossil fuel close to or inside the home can pose a serious health hazard.
Here are a few examples of dangerous operations:
• Running an automobile or gas lawn mower inside the garage
• Operating a barbeque inside the home
• A gas or oil burning furnace with a blockage in the chimney
• Kerosene space heaters
• Operating a generator in the home during a power failure
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, weakness, chest pain, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to death. Low level poisoning may go unnoticed because it may be mistaken for the flu.
Carbon Monoxide Detector
You should have at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home. In some geographic areas, a CO detector is required by law. The CO detector should be placed where you can hear it if, it goes off when you are asleep. A CO detector does not have to be placed on the ceiling, since unlike smoke, CO has approximately the same weight as air so it mixes uniformly throughout the room rather than floating up to the ceiling. To avoid false alarms, do not install the detector next to heating and cooking appliances, vents, flues, or chimneys. Make sure you read and follow the operating, placement, and testing instructions that come with the detector.
If the carbon monoxide detector alarms, take it seriously.
If you are installing only one carbon monoxide detector, it should be located where you can hear it when you are sleeping. For greater safety, multiple CO detectors can be installed throughout the home, follow the instructions packaged with the detector.