What do I need to know about carbon monoxide hazards?

Keep Your Family Safe from Carbon Monoxide

Each year in America, unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning claims more than 500 lives and sends another 15,200 people to hospital emergency rooms for treatment.

Carbon Monoxide Can Be Deadly

You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, but at high levels it can kill a person in minutes. Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. If appliances that burn fuel are maintained and used properly, the amount of CO produced is usually not hazardous. However, if appliances are not working properly or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of CO can result. Hundreds of people die accidentally every year from CO poisoning caused by malfunctioning or improperly used fuel-burning appliances. Even more die from CO produced by idling cars. Fetuses, infants, elderly people, and people with anemia or with a history of heart or respiratory disease can be especially susceptible. Be safe. Practice the do’s and don'ts of carbon monoxide.

CO Poisoning Symptoms

Know the symptoms of CO poisoning. At moderate levels, you or your family can get severe headaches, become dizzy, mentally confused, nauseated, or faint. You can even die if these levels persist for a long time. Low levels can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea, and mild headaches, and may have longer term effects on your health. Since many of these symptoms are similar to those of the flu, food poisoning, or other illnesses, you may not think that CO poisoning could be the cause.

You Can Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure

• Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
• Do install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
• Do seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.
• Don't use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.
• Don't run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
• Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
• Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors Required

Beginning January 1, 2007, Illinois Law requires every household to have at least one operating Carbon Monoxide alarm within 15 feet of every bedroom. It is the responsibility of the owner to supply the required alarm, while it is the responsibility of the person living in the home to assure the alarm is maintained and working. Tampering with a Carbon Monoxide alarm may even lead to felony charges.

What Should I Do if My Co Alarm Goes Off?

1. If you or someone in the home is feeling ill, evacuate all occupants immediately.
2. Call 911 and, when relaying information to the dispatcher; include the number of people feeling ill.
3. Do not re-enter the home until the fire department has a chance to check it out.
4. Follow the advice of the fire department and call a qualified professional to repair the source of the CO, if recommended.

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