How to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home

Published: Aug. 12, 2015 at 12:02 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2015 at 2:43 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Cold home season is just around the corner, and carbon monoxide can build quickly in homes. Carbon Monoxide awareness and installation can prevent serious illness or even death.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels, according to
Nearly 170 people in the US die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning. Products that trigger CO include malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as, water heaters, furnaces, and more. In 2005, 47 deaths were known to have occurred during power outages due to severe weather, including Hurricane Katrina.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that several thousand people go to hospital emergency rooms every year to be treated for CO poisoning.

Symptoms are hard to notice because CO is odorless, and colorless. Initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu without the fever. Symptoms include: Headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness.

High level symptoms of CO poisoning include more severe symptoms such as : Mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness, and ultimately death, according to CPSC.

To prevent CO poisoning, make sure appliances are installed and operated based of manufacture's instructions and local building codes. Most appliances should be installed by qualified professionals. Never operate a portable generator or any other gasoline engine-powered tool either in or near an enclosed space such as, a garage, house, or other building. Even if doors and windows are open, these spaces can trap CO and allow it to quickly build to lethal levels. Below is a list of helpful tips to avoid CO contact:

  • Install a CO alarm.
  • Never use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home.
  • Never burn charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent.
  • Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.
  • Never use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens, or clothes dryers to heat your home.
  • Never operate unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room where people are sleeping.
  • During home renovations, be sure that appliance vents and chimneys are not blocked. Make sure appliances are in proper working order when renovations are complete.
  • If you think you are experiencing any of the symptoms of CO poisoning, get outside to fresh air immediately. Leave the home and call your fire department, or a doctor.

For more information and tips on Carbon monoxide, visit CPSC.

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