Tips offered for protection against carbon monoxide
December 27, 2006
Hundreds of people die from carbon monoxide poisoning each year, but there are measures that can be taken to ensure your safety, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
“Recent tragic events throughout the country have served as sad reminders that carbon monoxide poisoning can result in death when it reaches unsafe levels,” said spokeswoman Lorraine Carli.
Many deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning could have been prevented by installing carbon monoxide alarms.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that enters the body undetected as a person breathes. The gas is produced by burning wood, coal, charcoal, natural gas, gasoline, propane, oil, methane, and other common fuels. It is also produced by automobiles and other gasoline or diesel engines.
“Portable generators are often used to meet electricity and heating needs in emergency situations. Homeowners are sometimes unaware of the risks associated with them like electric shock, electrocution and the most common risk, carbon monoxide poisoning,” said Mark W. Earley, P.E., assistant vice president/chief electrical engineer.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms, food poisoning and other illnesses. Some symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, or headaches.
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The National Fire Protection Agency suggests the following safety tips to avoid the dangers of carbon monoxide.
• Install carbon monoxide alarms inside your home to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in a central location outside each separate sleeping area. If bedrooms are spaced apart, each area will need a carbon monoxide alarm.
• Test carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month and replace alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Carbon monoxide alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.
• Have fuel-burning heating equipment such as fireplaces, furnaces, water heaters, wood and coal stoves, space or portable heaters and chimneys inspected by a professional every year before cold weather sets in.
• When using a fireplace, open the flue for adequate ventilation.
• Never use your oven or grill to heat your home.
• When buying a home, have a qualified technician evaluate the integrity of the heating and cooking systems, as well as the sealed spaces between the garage and house.
• If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle, generator, 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.