The Silent Killer - Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is known as the "silent killer" because it is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that can poison a body. When carbon monoxide is breathed in it replaces the oxygen in the blood and starves the most important organs which includes the heart and brain. This gas is often released from heating appliances or furnaces, water heaters and portable generators. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be prevented by recognizing the symptoms. These include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Unconsciousness
  • Weakness in the muscles
  • Chest pains
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

It is recommended to install a carbon monoxide alarm in your home because it is not as easy to sense as smoke is. When installing carbon monoxide alarms in your homes, remember to:

  • Install the alarm in a common area and outside of each bedroom on every floor of your house.
  • Purchase a carbon monoxide alarm system that will sound all alarms if one goes off.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instruction to see recommended placement and height for the alarm.
  • Do not use a smoke alarms for carbon monoxide alarms and vice versa.
  • Know which sound goes with which alarm (if you have more than one type of alarm in your house).

Take precaution to reduce the chances of carbon monoxide leaking in your home. This can include:

  • Getting professionals to inspect fuel-burning heating equipment every year.
  • Clearing and unblocking fuel-burning vents.
  • Never letting your car warm up in the garage while it is closed.
  • Never using an oven or stove to warm up your house.
  • Making sure the alarm is tested by a recognized laboratory.
  • Using portable generators outside and away from openings to your home.
  • Using grills away from the entrances of your home.

If you want to replace your carbon monoxide alarm, carefully follow the instructions in the manufacturer's manual. Also, be sure to test the alarm each month and be familiar with the low battery sound.