Carbon Monoxide (CO) is known as the silent killer because it is a colorless, odorless gas and often people don’t realize they are being poisoned. Take the time to have all of your heating appliances checked this winter by a trained service technician for any leaks, blockages or complications that could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. A faulty furnace, blocked chimney, fuel-burning heater or portable generator exhaust can result in carbon monoxide poisoning.
Take the following precautions to potentially protect your loved ones from harm:
- Install a carbon monoxide detector outside the bedroom area on each level of your home. Be sure your alarms have a battery backup.
- Carbon monoxide weighs the same as air so detectors should be installed in the middle of the wall or in an area with good circulation.
- Change the batteries annually.
- Carbon monoxide detectors lose their sensitivity generally after five years. Check the back of your detector for the manufacture date to learn when to replace your detector.
- Be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning such as dizziness, headache, nausea, fatigue and irregular breathing. Remember that oftentimes people have no symptoms.
- Never use a portable generator inside your home, garage, shed, or similar area. Carbon monoxide can build up within minutes when a generator is used in a confined or partially enclosed space.
- Check the exhaust pipe on your vehicle to be sure it is free from snow. Snowdrifts can also obstruct the exhaust on your vehicle. If your exhaust pipe is blocked, carbon monoxide can enter your vehicle.
- Never use an oven or gas range for heating.
- If you feel you have a CO leak or have any concerns about possible CO poisoning, go outside immediately, and then call 911.
Help spread the word about carbon monoxide poisoning. Let others know about the signs of CO poisoning, symptoms and how to prevent it! The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is sponsoring a nationwide carbon monoxide safety poster contest for middle school students to help warn people about the dangers of CO. Create a poster about the dangers of carbon monoxide. Your child can save lives and win money at the same time. For more information about this program and for additional safety programs, safety alerts and recalls go to www.thesafetycouncil.org. Pass it on and save a life!
Jamie Schaefer-Wilson is the Executive Director of The Safety Institute.