NASHVILLE, TN – According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year in America more than 150 people die from accidental, non-fire related carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning associated with consumer products. These products include faulty, improperly used or incorrectly vented fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces.
CO, often called "the silent killer," is a gas you cannot see, taste, or smell. It can be created when fossil fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, coal, natural gas, propane, methane or wood do not burn properly. CO poisoning can result from faulty furnaces or other heating appliances, portable generators, water heaters, clothes dryers or cars left running in garages. Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, nausea and drowsiness. Exposure to undetected high levels of carbon monoxide can be fatal.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office offers these tips to keep your home safe from CO dangers:
- CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one detects CO, they all sound.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
- Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
- Call your local fire department’s non-emergency number to find out what number to call if the CO alarm sounds.
- Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call the fire department.
- If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrive.
- If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
- During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
- A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
- Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO. Use them outdoors only.
- When using a fireplace, open the flue for adequate ventilation. And, have the flue and chimney cleaned before the first use of the season, to minimize the chances of any obstructions.
- Never use your oven or stovetop to heat your home.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office (www.tn.gov/commerce/sfm/) is a division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance (www.tn.gov/commerce/), which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce/, @TNCommerceInsur (Twitter), http://on.fb.me/uFQwUZ (Facebook), http://bit.ly/ry1GyX (YouTube)