Do you have a Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm installed in your home? – Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue recently attended a carbon monoxide (CO) incident at a home that was too close a call for those exposed. Although it was originally thought to be false alarm, firefighters took reading of the air with a 4 Gas detector and quickly determined high levels of carbon monoxide. The propane furnace was identified as the probable culprit. After thorough ventilation and shutting down the furnace, the air quality improved.
Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn. In homes, fuel-burning heating and cooking equipment are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
What are the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Carbon Monoxide enters the body through breathing. CO poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning, and other illnesses. Some symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, light headedness, or headaches. High levels of CO can be fatal, causing death within minutes.
The dangers of carbon monoxide exposure depend on a number of variables, including the health and activity level of the person exposed. Infants, pregnant women, and people with physical conditions that limit their body’s ability to use oxygen (i.e. emphysema, asthma, and heart disease) can be severely affected. Even lower concentrations of carbon monoxide that would not affect healthy adults can poison these vulnerable groups.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur from a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount of time.
What Should You Do to Protect Yourself and Your Family?
- Make sure all fuel-burning devises are regularly-inspected, especially for adequate exhaust.
- Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed, at a minimum, in a central location outside each of your sleeping areas and on every level of your These CO alarms should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
- Choose a carbon monoxide alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
- Test your carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month, and replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door and make sure everyone else does so as well. As soon as you get everyone to a fresh air location, call 9-1-1, and stay there until emergency personnel arrive.
- If you need to warm your vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run it, or any other fueled engine or motor, indoors, even if garage doors are open. Also, before starting it, make sure the exhaust pipe of your vehicle is not covered with snow.
- During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
- A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors, and vent openings.
- Gas or charcoal grills can produce carbon monoxide and should only be used outside.
If you don’t have a Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm in your home, make sure you install one this weekend!