An alarming statistic in America is that only about 50% of homes that have a fuel burning appliance such as a gas water heater, gas clothes dryer, gas cooktop/oven and homes that have a gasoline powered vehicle in an attached garage have an approved Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector installed and in operation. These CO alarms are vital in protecting your family from this colorless and odorless gas that is often referred to as the “invisible killer.”
As winter is in full swing, many homes use wood burning fireplaces and gas furnaces to stay warm and this can increase the levels of CO that is found in the home. Chronic conditions can result from a long-time exposure of low levels of CO and acute conditions can result from a short-term exposure to a large level of CO. It is imperative that at least one CO detector is installed on each floor located inside or adjacent to the bedrooms to indicate any presence and accumulation of this dangerous gas.
We are always reminded that when using portable generators, we should keep them away from windows and doors to prevent any CO from entering the home. But we should always consider those appliances inside the homes that create CO and do our part to ensure the safety of everyone in the home. NFPA has information related to the installation and use of these CO detectors and you can visit their website at https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Fire-and-life-safety-equipment/Carbon-monoxide for more information. The National Safety Council also has a page dedicated to Carbon Monoxide where you find additional information in addition to the early signs and symptoms associated with CO poisoning, which is a leader in accidental poisoning. Their website is https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/other-poisons/carbon-monoxide.
Please take the time to ensure your home has installed CO alarm and understand your actions in the event the alarm goes off. Get everyone outside to safety and fresh air, call 911 from another residence or cell phone and make sure everyone is accounted for. Emergency responders will determine if is it safe to enter the home. They will turn off all appliances and open windows to allow fresh air into the home.