Carbon Monoxide Q&A
Most of us know that Carbon Monoxide (CO) is bad – but how much do you really know about CO? Here are some carbon monoxide basics to help keep you safe at home.
1. What is carbon monoxide? – Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that is a byproduct of burning heating oil, wood, propane, or any other fuel. In excess, a buildup of CO in your home can cause illness, unconsciousness, or even death.
2. What causes a CO buildup? – An excess of CO usually occurs due to one of two reasons: either improper ventilation (of your living space, appliances, or home heating system) or equipment malfunction. Some common causes of CO buildup include:
- Running unvented appliances for too long
- Inadequate heating equipment maintenance
- Backdrafts near the heating appliance
- Using outdoor equipment inside a basement or garage
- A blocked flue or vent
3. What are the symptoms of CO poisoning? – Symptoms of CO poisoning worsen as exposure to the gas increases:
- Mild – Flu-like headaches, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness.
- Moderate – Severe headaches, drowsiness, confusion, and disorientation
- Extreme – Unconsciousness, convulsions, heart failure, and in some cases death.
4. What should I do if I experience CO poisoning symptoms?
- Get fresh air immediately – turn off fuel-burning appliances and leave the house
- Call 911
- Contact a doctor for a proper diagnosis; prompt medical attention is critical
- Get professional service for your equipment before using it again.
5. What should you do if the CO alarm sounds? – Never ignore it! If the alarm signal sounds, DO NOT try to find the source of the CO. Instead,
- Immediately move outside to fresh air
- Call 911
- DO NOT reenter the premises until cleared by emergency responders
- DO NOT use problem appliances until they have been serviced by a professional.
6. How can I avoid problems with CO in my home?
- Learn the symptoms of CO poisoning, and know what to do if someone experiences them.
- Service your fuel-burning appliances and heating system every year.
- Install CO detectors at every level of your home – especially near bedrooms.