The Source

Carbon monoxide is the number 1 cause of poisoning in North America. Carbon monoxide is difficult to detect as it is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and toxic gas produced as a byproduct of combustion. Because you can't see, taste. or smell it, carbon monoxide can kill you before you know it is there. Fire professionals are increasingly called upon to respond to calls regarding possible carbon monoxide poisonings. Any fuel burning appliance, vehicle, tool or other device has the potential to produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide gas. Examples of carbon monoxide producing devices commonly in use in or around you home include:

UFPD Fuel fired furnaces (non electric)
UFPD Gas water heaters
UFPD Fireplaces and wood stoves
UFPD Gas stoves
UFPD Gas dryers
UFPD Charcoal grills
UFPD Lawnmowers, snow blowers and other yard equipment (non electric)
UFPD Automobiles

The Facts

The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that approximately 200 people per year are killed by accidental CO poisoning with an additional 5000 people injured. These deaths and injuries are typically caused by improperly used or malfunctioning equipment aggravated by improvements in building construction which limit the amount of fresh air flowing in to homes and other structures.
The Department of Energy is concerned about CO levels indoors, because its weatherization programs to save energy can tighten houses and other buildings enough to increase CO concentrations.

What are the medical effects of carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide inhibits the bloods ability to carry oxygen to body tissues including vital organs such as the heart and brain. When CO is inhaled, it combines with the oxygen carrying hemoglobin of the blood to form carboxyhemoglobin. Once combined with the hemoglobin, that hemoglobin is no longer available for transporting oxygen. How quickly the carboxyhemoglobin builds up is a factor of the concentration being breathed (measured in parts per million or PPM) and the duration of the exposure.
Aggravating the effects of the exposure is the long half-life of carboxyhemoglobin in the blood. Half-life is a measure of how quickly levels return to normal. The half-life of carboxyhemoglobin is approximately 5 hours. This means that for a given exposure level, it will take about 5 hours for it to drop to half its current level once the exposure is terminated.

How To Ahe Effects Of Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide poisoning is often confused with "flu like symptoms" such as headache, nausea, dizziness. Make sure all family members are aware of symptoms:


How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Have And Where Should I Place Them?
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends a detector on each floor of a residence. At a minimum, a single detector should be placed on each sleeping floor with an additional detector in the area of any major gas burning appliances such as a furnace or water heater. Installation in these areas ensures rapid detection of any potentially malfunctioning appliances and the ability to hear the alarm from all sleeping areas. Consult the manufacturers installation instructions for proper placement of a detector within a given area. In general, carbon monoxide detectors should be placed high (near the ceiling) for most effective use.

Safety Tips

UFPD A yearly checkup of all fuel-burning venting systems in the home is desirable.
UFPD A yearly checkup of all combustion appliances is suggested. In many areas, upon request, the gas company will provide this service.
UFPD All gas appliances must have adequate ventilation so that CO will not accumulate.
UFPD Chimney vents often become blocked by debris causing a buildup of CO. They should be checked annually.
UFPD Often a makeshift patch on vent pipes can lead to an accumulation of CO, and therefore should be avoided.
UFPD In-room vent pipes should be on a slight incline as they go toward the exterior. UFPD This will reduce leaking of toxic gases in case the joints or pipes are improperly fitted.
UFPD Using a gas range for heating can result in the accumulation of CO.
UFPD The use of barbecue grills indoors will quickly result in dangerous levels of CO.
UFPDBurning charcoal (whether black, red, gray or white) gives off CO.
UFPD Using a gas camp stove for heating the home, cabin or camper call result in the accumulation of CO.
UFPD Never run your car in a garage unless the outside door is open to provide ventilation.
UFPD Doors connecting a garage and house should be kept closed when the auto is running.
UFPD Buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency; otherwise, one may get poorly designed equipment, which may soon result in the production of CO.