Carbon monoxide (CO) is a silent killer. It is odorless and colorless and kills an average of 170 people every year in the US. To help keep your family safe, here is some important information about carbon monoxide and some carbon monoxide safety tips for MA residents.
Sources of Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide comes from the burning of fuel. This includes oil, natural gas, and bottled gas in home heating systems as well as gasoline or diesel burned in vehicles. Equipment such as generators and lawn mowers also produce carbon monoxide. This is why home heating systems are vented to the outside and why certain equipment should only be operated outdoors.
Carbon Monoxide Dangers | Signs of CO Poisoning
Exposure to carbon monoxide can result in a variety of symptoms. The amount, severity, and progression of symptoms can be related to the amount and duration of exposure. Many of these symptoms are mistaken for the flu.
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of muscle coordination
With prolonged exposure or short-term severe exposure, carbon monoxide poisoning can result in death.
Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips for MA Residents
- Install a Carbon Monoxide detector in your home (preferably in the hallways outside of bedrooms). This may provide critical early warnings of dangerous levels of the gas. Test your detectors yearly and replace batteries as needed.
- Never operate fuel-burning equipment indoors. This includes generators, camping equipment, and yard tools. Even with windows and doors open, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can exist.
- Never leave a car running inside a garage with the garage doors closed, especially in garages attached to your home.
- Never let anyone sit in a snowed in car while the car is running. Snow banks can block the exhaust pipe and cause carbon monoxide levels to quickly build inside the car. Over the last few years, there have been numerous incidents in Massachusetts of children dying inside cars while their parents were shoveling snow from around the car.
- Never use gas stoves or ovens to heat your home.
- Never line your gas oven with aluminum foil. This can block proper air flow and cause a build-up of carbon monoxide.
- Have your chimney inspected and cleaned yearly (at a minimum) to ensure there are no blockages preventing proper ventilation.
- Have your heating system serviced regularly to ensure proper functioning and ventilation.
- Never attempt to service your own fuel-burning appliances and equipment unless you have the proper training.
What to Do in a Carbon Monoxide Emergency
If your carbon monoxide alarm sounds or you are concerned about symptoms that may be linked to carbon monoxide poisoning, immediately go outside where there is fresh air. Contact your local fire department. Obtain medical attention as needed. If the fire department identifies a heating system or appliance as the cause of the carbon monoxide, be sure not to operate it until it has been repaired and deemed safe.
The above carbon monoxide safety tips are just a few important precautions that you can take. There may be many more carbon monoxide dangers present in your home. It is important to play it safe and take precautions when dealing with anything that uses or runs off fuel.