Carbon Monoxide – Know the hazards this holiday season

Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas produced by the burning of any carbon-based fuel. Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can happen at any time of the year, but the risk is increased during the winter when doors and windows stay closed and fireplaces, gas heaters, or other fuel burning appliances are in use. In addition, people can also be exposed to deadly CO levels when “warming up” their cars in garages or keeping them running when stuck in snow.

Educate Yourself to Educate Others

  • CO is a quick and silent killer. It is also colorless and odorless.
  • Heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of CO – such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane.
  • Fresh air circulation and staying away from exhaust vents are the best way to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engines/motors indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
  • A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and other air intakes.
  • Gas or charcoal grills should never be used indoors. They are for outside use only.


Protect Yourself and Others

  • Install CO detectors that will alert when the CO concentration is too high.
  • CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards.
  • For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
  • Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Call your local fire department’s non-emergency number to find out what number to call if the CO alarm sounds.
  • Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call the fire department.
  • If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
  • Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for.
  • Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel.
  • Do not reenter the premises until emergency responders have given you permission to do so.
  • Never ignore a carbon monoxide alarm and do not try to find the source of the gas!


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