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Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide Safety

A buildup of carbon monoxide (CO) from incomplete combustion of fuels, such as natural gas, and inadequate ventilation can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Signs of buildup of this colorless, odorless gas include:

  • Stuffy, stale or smelly air
  • High humidity
  • Soot from fireplaces or furnaces

Exposure to carbon monoxide gas can cause headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and loss of muscle control. Prolonged exposure leads to unconsciousness, brain damage, or death. The best treatment for overexposure is fresh air and immediate medical help.

To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, gas and oil appliance manufacturers recommend a yearly safety check-up.

To prevent accidental CO poisoning, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Never operate a CO-producing engine or heating source in a confined area that lacks ventilation. Examples include leaving a vehicle running in a closed garage, operating a grill indoors, or leaving a cooking range on for warmth.
  • Have heating systems, gas hot water heaters, and chimneys checked annually by qualified technicians or contractors.
  • Install CO detectors (meeting UL standard #2034 requirements) above your home's furnace and outside bedrooms.
  • If you suspect a CO problem with your furnace or water heater, call a qualified heating contractor immediately.
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