Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless and highly toxic gas capable of killing before it is ever detected by human senses. More than 150 people die every year in the United States from carbon monoxide poisoning due to faulty, improperly-used or incorrectly-vented fuel-burning appliances, such as stoves, furnaces and water heaters. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reccomend you take the following precautions:
- Installing at least one carbon monoxide detector with an audible alarm near the sleeping areas
- Have a qualified professional assess all fuel-burning appliances for carbon monoxide leaks at least once a year
- Never use a range or oven to heat your home
- Never keep a car running in a garage, even if the garage door is open
Remember that low levels of carbon monoxide exposure can cause symptoms that mimic symptoms of the flu, such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue and nausea. If your carbon monoxide detector goes off and no one is feeling ill, turn off all appliances and sources of combustion, ventilate the building and call a qualified professional to investigate the source of the carbon monoxide buildup. If your carbon monoxide detector goes off and anyone is feeling ill, evacuate all occupants immediately, call your local emergency number and do not re-enter the building before it has been inspected by a professional.