May 2009

There may be a killer in your home that's waiting to get you.

This is no ordinary killer. You won't hear glass breaking. Neither will you see it or smell it. It renders victims helpless before they know what happened.

That killer is carbon monoxide (CO). But there is something you can do - INSPECT, PROTECT AND DETECT.

According to Underwriters Laboratories, 15,000 Americans are seen in emergency rooms every year because of CO poisoning. It's the most common type of poisoning in the United States.

CO is produced when any fuel, like natural gas, propane, wood, kerosene or charcoal is burned. If the appliance that burns the fuel is working correctly or is properly maintained and used, the amount of CO is usually not hazardous.

But if the appliance is improperly installed, not working properly or used incorrectly, CO can rapidly build to dangerous levels.

Fetuses, infants, the elderly and people affected by heart or lung disease are especially susceptible.

CO poisoning mimics the flu. Victims develop headaches, nausea, dizziness and mental confusion. If symptoms subside in fresh air, CO poisoning may be the cause.

Take these three steps for CO safety:

Get a licensed technician to INSPECT fuel-burning appliances every year.

  • Over time, appliance parts can become damaged or deteriorate.
  • A technician can spot these problems before they become dangerous.
    Purchase and install a CO alarm to PROTECT your loved ones.

  • The alarm should be UL-listed.
  • Put an alarm outside every sleeping area and on every level.
  • Don't install the alarm on top of or directly across from fuel-burning appliances.
  • Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • If you already have CO alarms, test them monthly and replace batteries yearly.
    Be prepared should your CO alarm DETECT a problem.

  • Immediately open windows and doors.
  • Get outside.
  • Make sure everyone is accounted for.
  • Call 911 from a safe location.
  • Remain there until emergency workers say otherwise.
  • Have an expert find the CO source and correct it.

  • Read other articles from The Walton EMC Gasette:
    Test Your Natural Gas Smarts
    How much do you know about natural gas safety?