Fire Safety Tips - Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Center Pigeon Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. P.O. Box 875, Canton, NC 28716    Tel: 828.648.0810



Fire Safety Tips - Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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Carbon Monoxide (CO) is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs more often in the winter months. This occurs when people use their gas stove to heat the home. Carbon monoxide is produced by any device that burns fuel.

Approximately 500 Americans die annually from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, and approximately 5,000 are treated for exposure at area hospitals. To reduce the chance of accidental exposure a carbon monoxide detector should be installed in the home.

Carbon monoxide fumes build up where there is poor ventilation particularly in an enclosed area. The following is a list of items that can produce such deadly fumes:
Exhaust from cars / trucks.
Gas stoves.
Gas ranges.
Kerosene lanterns.
Burning charcoal.
Wood burning stove.
Fireplace chimney.
Gas burning generators.
Any type of fuel burning appliance.
Hot water heater.
Read this article , "Utility Cutoffs Fuel Carbon Monoxide Poisoning"

Carbon monoxide binds to our hemoglobin 200 times faster than oxygen when the exposure is high enough, you can develop these symptoms from exposure to carbon monoxide:

Nausea / vomiting.
Cherry red skin.
Confusion / Stupor.
Loss of conscious.
Possible death.
Everyone is at risk of exposure, however, people with low red blood cell counts, heart or respiratory aliments as well as infants are at a higher risk.

To further reduce the chances of you or a loved one becoming overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning follow these preventive tips:

1.  Never heat your home with a gas stove /gas range.

2.  Never use a charcoal grill or a hibachi in your home.

3.  Never use a gas powered generator or a gas powered machine in the home or basement.

4.  Make sure all fuel burning appliances are properly installed and maintained by a certified technician.

5.  Never use a gas powered machine by an open window (fumes can seep into the home).

6.  Always clear exhaust pipes from automobiles and trucks during snowstorms.

7.  Make sure fireplace, chimneys and flues are checked and cleaned every year.

8.  Never sit in a car or leave it running in a closed garage.

9.  Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home and check it regularly to make sure the battery is working.

In the event you become ill from carbon monoxide poisoning move yourself to fresh air and call 911. Follow instructions from operator and await the help of a trained medical professional.

Potential Carbon Monoxide Sources in Home:

EPA Recommendations:

The EPA recommend the following steps to reduce exposure to carbon monoxide:

Keep gas appliances properly adjusted.
Consider purchasing a vented space heater when replacing an unvented one.
Use proper fuel in kerosene space heaters.
Install and use an exhaust fan vented to the outdoors over gas stoves.
Open flues when fireplaces are in use.
Choose a properly sized wood stove and make sure its doors fit tightly.
Have a trained professional inspect, clean and tune-up central heating system (furnaces, flues and chimneys) annually. Repair any leaks promptly.
Do not idle the car inside garage.
Do not run electric generators in the garage.


Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can happen within a matter of minutes and is responsible for more deaths than any other single poison. This odorless, colorless poison can hurt you slowly in low levels, cause permanent neurological dysfunctions in moderate levels or take lives in higher levels. Protection against this deadly poison is as easy as installing a simple carbon monoxide detector in your home or office.

CO emissions produced whenever fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned. The amount of CO produced while using fuel-burning appliances is usually not harmful. It becomes hazardous when appliances are used improperly or are not functioning adequately.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious threat that people need to get informed about. By educating ourselves on the dangers of CO we can significantly reduce the health risk as well as save lives. Although everyone needs to be aware of the dangers, some people are more susceptible than others. The following are more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Elderly People
Those who suffer from anaemia, respiratory or heart disease

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