Carbon Monoxide Safety Information
Carbon Monoxide Can Be Deadly!
Every year, hundreds of Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning and thousands seek medical attention. Some of these fatalities are caused by improper operation of appliances.
Everyone in your family is at risk if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are present in your home. Unborn babies, infants, those with medical conditions, and the elderly are the most susceptible to its effects. Carbon monoxide can strike quickly…people who are sleeping can die from carbon monoxide poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms.
Please take a few minutes to learn about the dangers of carbon monoxide and simple precautions you can take to reduce the risk of accidental poisoning. Share this information with your family members to help ensure that everyone stays safe.
WHAT IS CARBON MONOXIDE?
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and toxic gas. Smoking a cigarette; running an internal combustion engine; and burning candles, fuel oil, wood, kerosene, natural gas, and propane may produce carbon monoxide. High levels of carbon monoxide can be produced when fuels are burned incompletely.
WHERE DO HIGH LEVELS OF CARBON MONOXIDE COME FROM?
High levels of carbon monoxide can be generated by internal combustion engines or by appliances that are defective or improperly installed or maintained. Carbon monoxide can also enter a home if an appliance venting system or chimney becomes blocked (for example, by a bird’s nest).
IS CARBON MONOXIDE TOXIC?
CARBON MONOXIDE CAN BE DEADLY!
High levels of carbon monoxide can make you dizzy, give you headaches, or cause flu-like symptoms (see “Poisoning Symptoms” on reverse side). In extreme cases, high levels of or extended exposure to carbon monoxide can result in brain damage or death. Young children; the elderly; people with heart disease; and those under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication are particularly susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning.
HOW CAN I REDUCE THE RISK OF CARBON MONOXIDE POSIONING?
The best way to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is to have a qualified service technician check your appliances and venting systems annually, preferably before the heating season begins. Other important measures include:
- Keep chimneys, flues, and vents free of debris such as leaves and animal nests.
- Keep chimneys, flues, and vents free of snow and ice.
- Consider installing a UL-listed carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home.
- Never use a gas oven or range-top burners to provide space heating.
- Never use portable heaters indoors, unless they are designed and approved for indoor use.
- Never use a barbecue grill (propane or charcoal) indoors for cooking or heating.
- Regularly check your appliance exhaust vents for blockage.
- Always open the chimney flue damper when you use your fireplace.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and use of vent-free appliances, including fireplaces and logs.
- Never run an internal combustion engine such as your car, lawn mower, generator, or snow blower in enclosed areas such as your garage.
DO CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS IMPROVE SAFETY?
Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to sound an alarm when they sense excessive levels of carbon monoxide in the air. For an extra measure of safety, we recommend that you consider installing a UL-listed carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding installation, location, and maintenance.
WHAT ARE SOME SIGNS THAT MAY LEAD TO CARBON MONOXIDE?
Sooting, especially on appliances, vents, and warm air registers
Unfamiliar or burning odor
Increased moisture inside of windows
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SUSPECT CARBON MONOXIDE IS PRESENT?
If you or a family member shows physical symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, get everyone out of the building and CALL 911 OR YOUR LOCAL FIRE DEPARTMENT. If it is safe to do so, open windows to allow entry of fresh air, and turn off any appliances you suspect may be releasing the carbon monoxide. If no one has physical symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, but you suspect that carbon monoxide is present, call your propane retailer or a qualified service technician to check carbon monoxide levels and your propane equipment.