Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless gas; because you can't see, taste, or smell it, it can kill you before you know it's there.
How can I protect against carbon monoxide poisoning?
Early warning is essential. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that every home have at least one carbon monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal near the sleeping area. Choose a CO alarm that is Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL) listed. Look for the UL logo on the package. The International Association of Fire Chiefs recommends that UL-listed CO alarms be installed on every level of the home for additional protection. Have a qualified appliance technician check all fuel-burning appliances, furnaces, venting, and chimney systems at least once a year or as the manufacturer recommends.
How does a carbon monoxide alarm work?
A CO alarm is not like a smoke alarm. A smoke alarm triggers an alarm immediately when it detects smoke. In a fire, the danger is immediate. A carbon monoxide alarm triggers an alarm based on exposure to CO over time. It is designed to sound an alarm before an average, healthy adult would experience symptoms. Remember, with carbon monoxide, it is the concentration of CO over time that poses a threat. Since carbon monoxide displaces oxygen in your blood, it can harm you if you are exposed to high levels of CO in a short period of time or to lower levels of CO over a long period of time.
What do I do if my carbon monoxide alarm goes off?
Never ignore your alarm! It is very possible that you won't be experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning when the alarm sounds. That does not mean there is no carbon monoxide present. The alarm is supposed to go off before you feel sick so you have time to react and take action. Do not panic. Press the Test/Silence button to quiet the alarm temporarily, then call 911. Immediately move everyone to a source of fresh air. Leave the CO alarm where it is (the emergency responders will want to check it when they arrive). Do not re-enter your home until the emergency responder has arrived, your home is aired out, and your CO alarm returns to normal operation. Have the problem corrected as soon as possible. Keep your home well-ventilated until the problem has been fixed.
For more information on Carbon Monoxide, please download this helpful PDF or contact the Carbondale Fire Department at 618-457-3234.