What is Carbon Monoxide (CO) and who is at risk?
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, deadly gas. CO is a common by-product of combustion, present whenever fuel is burned. (wood, paper, charcoal, natural or LP gas, fuel oil, kerosene, etc.) You can't see, taste or smell it. CO can kill you before you know it's even there. At low levels of exposure, CO causes health problems. Everyone is at risk, however some individuals such as infants, children, senior citizens and folks with heart or respiratory problems are at greater risk.
Why is CO dangerous?
CO is dangerous because the bloodstream more readily absorbs it than oxygen. CO joins with hemoglobin in the blood, displacing oxygen that your organs need to function. Initially, CO poisoning causes flu like symptoms, like headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and confusion. More fuel burning appliances are used during the colder months, so people may mistake CO poisoning for the flu.
How does CO get into my home?
Inefficient burning of fuels creates CO. An improperly installed gas appliance may allow CO to escape. Cracked vent pipes or chimneys also let CO back into your home. Allowing a car to run in an attached garage is a large source of CO in the home. Operating barbecue grills in a garage or other unvented area will cause CO to accumulate. Portable, non-electric heaters may be a source as well.
How to avoid CO problems.
Never run an auto in an enclosed garage for an extended period.
Have a professional inspect your vent pipes or chimneys on an annual basis.
Don't run gas-powered equipment such as generators, in your home.
Protect you and your family by installing and maintaining a Carbon Monoxide detector at sleeping areas.