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Say No to CO: Carbon Monoxide Q&A

Posted: December 29, 2016

Carbon monoxide

Here are some basic questions and answers about CO to keep your family safe this heating season.

  1. What is carbon monoxide?
    Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas produced when you burn gas, wood, oil, or any other kind of fuel. An unsafe build-up of CO in your home can cause illness, disorientation, or even death.
  2. Why does CO accumulate?
    Improper ventilation or equipment breakdown are the most common causes CO buildup. Typically these conditions are the result of:

    • A damaged or poorly maintained heating system.
    • A blocked flue or vent.
    • Backdrafts near the heating appliance.
    • Overlong operation of unvented appliances.
  3. How can I tell if someone in our home has CO poisoning?
    Symptoms of CO poisoning get more severe as exposure to the gas increases.

    • Mild Cases – Flu-like symptoms – i.e., headaches, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness.
    • Moderate Cases – Severe headaches, drowsiness, and disorientation.
    • Extreme Cases – Unconsciousness, convulsions, and in rare cases death.
  4. What should you do if someone is experiencing CO poisoning symptoms?
    If someone is symptomatic:

    • Get fresh air immediately. Open windows and doors, then leave your home and call 911.
    • Report your symptoms to your doctor.
    • Do not operate your fuel-burning appliances again until a professional inspects and repairs them!
  5. How can I avoid CO problems in my home?

    • Have a CO exposure plan – Learn and teach everyone in your home about the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning and what to do if they experience them.
    • Maintain your equipment – Perform routine maintenance every year on all fuel-burning appliances ¬– even new equipment. Never attempt a home heating repair yourself!
    • Install CO detectors – They are inexpensive and they work!