In response to a number of alarm phone calls received by the Mendham Fire Department related to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, fire officials have gathered some information to raise awareness about the dangers of CO.
CO is an odorless, colorless, deadly gas. People can’t see it, taste it or smell it. At lower levels of exposure, it can cause health problems. Some people may be more vulnerable to CO poisoning such as fetuses, infants, children, senior citizens and those with heart or lung problems. When CO is breathed in by an individual, it accumulates in the blood and forms a toxic compound known as carboxyhemoglobin (COHb).
The Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Mendham Fire Department recommend installing at least one carbon monoxide detector with an audible alarm near the sleeping area. A second near the home’s heat source provides extra protection. If a home has more than one story, a detector should be placed on each floor.
Be sure the detector has a testing laboratory label.
Homeowners should remember not to install carbon monoxide detectors directly above or beside fuel-burning appliances, as appliances may emit a small amount of carbon monoxide upon start-up. A detector should not be placed within fifteen feet of heating or cooking appliances or in or near very humid areas such as bathrooms.
When considering where to place a carbon monoxide detector, keep in mind that although carbon monoxide is roughly the same weight as air, it may be contained in warm air coming from combustion appliances such as home heating equipment. If this is the case, carbon monoxide will rise with the warmer air.
For this reason, the makers of First Alert, the leading brand in carbon monoxide detector technology, suggests mounting the detector on the ceiling. This also puts the detector out of the way of potential interference, such as pets or curious children.
What to do if Your Carbon Monoxide Detector’s Alarm Sounds
Carbon monoxide is a by-product of combustion, present whenever fuel is burned. It is produced by common household appliances such as gas or oil furnaces, clothes dryers, water heaters, ovens and ranges. A charcoal grill operating in an enclosed area, a fire burning in a fireplace or a car running in an attached garage also produce carbon monoxide.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), carbon monoxide is the number one cause of poisoning deaths in the U.S.A. Making sure furnaces and other potential carbon monoxide sources are properly vented and in good working condition, along with owning a UL listed carbon monoxide detector, could become a matter of life and death.
The manufacturer of First Alert, the leading brand of carbon monoxide detectors, recommends, if the alarm goes off, turn off appliances, or other sources of combustion at once; immediately get fresh air into the premises by opening doors and windows; call a qualified technician and have the problem fixed before restarting appliances.
If anyone is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headaches, dizziness, vomiting, call the fire department, dial 911, and immediately move to a location that has fresh air. Do a head count to be sure all persons are accounted for. Do not re-enter the premises until it has been aired out and the problem corrected.
Information has been provided by First Alert. For more information, contact the Carbon Monoxide Information Center at 312-337-7773.