Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas. Every year more than 100 people in the United States die from unintentional exposure to carbon monoxide associated with consumer products.
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is produced by burning fuel. Therefore, any fuel-burning appliance in your home is a potential CO source.
When cooking or heating appliances are kept in good working order, they produce little CO. Improperly operating appliances can produce fatal CO concentrations in your home.
Running a car or generator in an attached garage can cause fatal CO poisoning in the home. So can running a generator or burning charcoal in the basement, crawlspace, or living area of the home.
Symptoms of CO poisoning
The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever) They include:
-Shortness of breath
If you suspect that you are experiencing CO poisoning, get fresh air immediately. Leave the home and call for assistance from a neighbor's home. You could lose consciousness and die from CO poisoning if you stay in the home.
Get medical attention immediately and inform medical staff that CO poisoning is suspected. Call the Fire Department to determine when it is safe to reenter the home.
What should you do?
Proper installation, operation, and maintenance of fuel-burning appliances in the home is the most important factor in reducing the risk of CO poisoning.
Make sure appliances are installed according to the manufacturer's instructions and the local codes. Most appliances should be installed by professionals.
Always follow the appliance manufacturer's directions for safe operation.
Have the heating system (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually by a trained service technician.
Examine vents and chimneys regularly for improper connections, visible cracks, rust or stains.
Look for problems that could indicate improper appliance operations:
-Decreased hot water supply
-Furnace unable to heat house or runs continuously
-Sooting, especially on appliances and vents
-Unfamiliar, or burning odor
-Increased moisture inside of windows
Operate portable generators outdoors and away from open doors, windows, and vents that could allow CO to come indoors.
In addition, install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back-up in your home. Every home should have a CO alarm in the hallway near the bedrooms in each separate sleeping area. The CO alarms should be certified to the requirements of the most recent UL, IAS, or CSA standard for CO alarms. Test your CO alarms frequently and replace dead batteries. A CO alarm can provide added protection, but is no substitute for proper installation, use and upkeep of appliances that are potential CO sources.
To report a dangerous product or
a product related injury, call CPSC's
hotline at (800) 638-2772 or
CPSC teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270.
Consumers can obtain recall
information at CPSC's web site at
can report product hazards