Safety Tips

Safety Tips

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, tasteless, non-corrosive gas that can be a by-product of the combustion of ordinary fuels. CO is relatively harmless in open spaces, but can become very poisonous if it is allowed to accumulate.

Carbon Monoxide is Not in Natural Gas

Carbon monoxide is not in natural gas but it can be produced if your natural gas appliance is not burning efficiently or is not vented properly. CO is also produced whenever any fuel such as gasoline, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned.

Other CO sources include vehicle exhaust, blocked chimney flues, fuel-burning cooking appliances used improperly for home heating, generators used in an enclosed space or charcoal grills used in the home, tent, camper, garage or other unventilated area.

Signs of Improper Combustion

Look for these signs of improper combustion that can lead to carbon monoxide:

  • Stuffy, foul-smelling or stale air inside your home
  • The smell of exhaust fumes
  • A yellow/orange flame on gas ranges, furnace or water heater burners
  • Soot around outside of chimney, furnace or water heater flue vent or fireplace
  • Large areas of condensation of water vapor on walls or windows

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide may cause any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Irregular breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Vision problems such as seeing spots or “floaters” and blurred vision
  • Fatigue or feeling ill at home but feeling fine outside the home
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Loss of coordination

Carbon monoxide poisoning can eventually cause loss of consciousness, coma, seizures, cardiac arrest and respiratory failure.

What to Do if You Detect Carbon Monoxide

Follow these simple guidelines if you think you have a carbon monoxide problem in your home:

  • If your detector alarm sounds and you are experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, leave your home and immediately call your local emergency services number or 911.
  • If you have no symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and your detector alarm sounds, first check the detector. Push the reset button (if available) and turn off any appliances or other sources of combustion. Get fresh air to the building and check for sources of carbon monoxide. Adjust, repair or replace your appliances as needed by calling a qualified service or repair company.
  • If you think you have symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and you do not have a detector, leave your home and immediately call your local emergency services number or 911.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by following these simple suggestions:

  • Purchase carbon monoxide detectors
  • Be sure all fuel-burning equipment is installed, adjusted and operating properly
  • Have appliances installed by a professional, and carefully follow manufacturer instructions
  • Do not cut off or restrict combustion air sources to appliances
  • Equipment should be inspected regularly by a professional heating or appliance contractor
  • Provide adequate ventilation in the house when using stoves, fireplaces or unvented space heaters.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors or in an enclosed space
  • Clean your chimney and check for blockage, especially with wood burning fireplaces and stoves
  • Open your garage door before starting your vehicle