Safety: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. The incomplete burning of materials that contain carbon, like natural gas, propane, coal, wood, fuel oil and gasoline produces it.

Its inhalation at low concentration levels can cause such symptoms as nausea, headaches, or dizziness. Higher levels of concentration have been known to cause brain damage and death. Each year, nearly 300 people in the United States die as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

What can we do?

  • The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission recommends the installation of carbon monoxide detectors with labels showing that they meet the requirements of Underwriters Laboratories, Inc, voluntary standard, UL 2034.
  • If you suspect carbon monoxide may be present; get out of the area and in to fresh open air immediately. Remove anyone overcome by the gas and give artificial respiration until either a doctor arrives or the person revives.
  • Make sure appliances such as furnaces, heaters, ovens, ranges, charcoal grills, fireplaces, etc. are installed properly according to manufacturer’s commendations and local building codes.
  • Have heating systems inspected and serviced annually.
  • Examine vents and chimneys for improper connections, visible rust, loose masonry, or sooting.
  • Never run a gas or charcoal grill inside or in a closed area.
  • Never run an automobile in a closed garage.
  • Never use a gas oven or range for heating.
  • Never operate unvented gas appliances in a closed in area.

Remember: Properly working carbon monoxide detectors can provide an early warning before the deadly gas builds up to a dangerous level.

Where can I get additional information?

This article is provided only for the purpose of alerting people to the need to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide. The scope of this article is not intended to be all-inclusive in any area including causes, prevention, or the need for medical attention. For a comprehensive understanding of carbon monoxide poisoning further information is available from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as well as various manufacturers of carbon monoxide detectors.


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