Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless, colorless gas that comes from burning fossil fuels like a gas, oil and charcoal. Symptoms are similar to the flu (headache, nausea, drowsiness), so a special alarm is the only way to know when this deadly gas is present.
Health and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning
CO claims more than 2,000 lives each year. (Journal of the American Medical Association).
At high concentration levels, carbon monoxide can be fatal in minutes. CO rapidly accumulates in the blood and is attracted to the hemoglobin in your bloodstream. When breathed in, CO passes through the lungs and bonds with hemoglobin, displacing the oxygen that cells need to function.
Carbon monoxide does not discriminate; everyone is at risk.
Young children and the elderly accounted for more than 25% of deaths due to CO poisoning in 1999. (CDC)
Early symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu and are often misdiagnosed. Headaches, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness are all non-specific symptoms of CO poisoning.
The combined medical cost of CO accidents, lost productivity and lost wages amounts to $8.8 billion a year. Equipping every home with two CO alarms would cut that cost by 93%. (Carbon Monoxide Health and Safety Association)
· According to the Mayo Clinic, 51% of all poisoning cases reported involve children six years old and under.
· In 1999, nearly 2,200 children under the age of six were accidentally poisoned by CO. (American Association of Poison Control Centers)
Pregnant Women/Unborn Babies
· A pregnant woman may be affected by CO exposure in the same way as a non-pregnant woman; additionally, the contaminated blood/gas compound can be passed on to her unborn child.
Potential CO Dangers in Your Home
· CO is a produced anytime a fuel is burned. Potential sources include gas or oil furnaces, water heaters, space heaters, clothes dryers, barbecue grills, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, gas ovens, generators, and car exhaust fumes.
CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America. (Centers for Disease Control)
· Every year more than 10,000 people die or seek medical attention due to CO poisoning from home-related products. (Consumer Product Safety Commission)
· More than two-thirds of Americans use gas, wood, kerosene or another fuel as their home's major heat source.
· 65% of CO poisoning deaths from consumer products are due to heating systems.
· Only 27% of homes in America have carbon monoxide alarms, according to the Hardware/Home center Research Industry.
An idling vehicle in an attached garage, even with the garage door opened, can produce concentrated amounts of CO that can enter your home through the garage door or nearby windows.
o CO poisoning deaths from portable generators have doubled for the past two years, and many of these deaths occurred in the winter months and during power outages.
o A poorly maintained gas stove can give off twice the amount of CO than one in good working order.
Install at least one battery-powered CO alarm or AC-powered unit with battery backup on each level of your home and near sleeping areas. Replace CO alarms every five to seven years in order to benefit from the latest technology upgrades.
Have a licensed professional inspect heating systems and other fuel-burning appliances annually.
Install fuel-burning appliances properly and operate according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Do not use charcoal or gas grills inside or operate outdoors near a window where CO fumes could seep in through a window.
Keep chimneys clear of animal nests, leaves and residue to ensure proper venting. Have all fireplaces cleaned and inspected annually.
Do not block or seal shut the exhaust flues or ducts used by water heaters, ranges and clothes dryers.
Do not leave your car running in an attached garage or carport.
Do not use ovens or stoves to heat your home.