Carbon Monoxide detector(s) are needed in the home and at work to detect the presence of carbon monoxide gas and to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide (CO) is often referred to as the “silent killer” because we cannot see, smell, or taste carbon monoxide gas. Without the technology to detect the gas, we are likely to remain in a deadly environment. Exposure to carbon monoxide may cause nausea, vomiting, and headaches – and depending on the levels and exposure time, can result in unconsciousness, organ failure, and death. Carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen in our blood, starving our bodies of oxygen. Depending on the levels of carbon monoxide, this can happen slowly or quickly.
Carbon monoxide is a product of incomplete combustion. If various gas or wood fueled appliances are not properly working or vented, they may emit the carbon monoxide gas into the home. Possible sources of carbon monoxide in buildings include furnaces, water heaters, fuel-burning space heaters, wood burning stoves, fireplaces, blocked vents, and running vehicles in attached garages.
“As we experience carbon monoxide poisoning, we may confuse it with the flu because the symptoms are similar. This is why the carbon monoxide detector is needed – to alert you to the presence of carbon monoxide gas” said Gary Stockert, Bismarck Emergency Manager.
“In addition to installing CO detectors, proper use and maintenance of fuel fired appliances will help reduce the likelihood of carbon monoxide being released into the home at unsafe levels,” said Ron Kunda, Bismarck Fire Marshal.
Things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones:
1. Install a UL approved CO detector on every level of your home, making sure one is by the bedrooms. Test the detectors monthly and change the batteries every 6 months.
2. If the CO detector alarms, check it for proper operation, get everyone out leaving windows and exterior doors closed, and call 911.
3. Have a licensed professional install or perform annual maintenance on furnaces and keep all fuel burning appliances working properly. (Stove, dryer, fireplace, etc)
4. Make sure to warm up vehicles outside rather than in the garage.
5. Watch if you or other family members feel sick at home but fine when out of the house.
6. Small children, the elderly, and people with respiratory problems are more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning.
7. Avoid using portable fueled appliances as an alternate heat sources. Many are not appropriate for indoor use. Read user manuals and follow the safety guidelines. Only if it is absolutely necessary to use an alternate heat source indoors in an emergency, a window or door should be partially opened to provide adequate ventilation.
8. Show someone you care – give them a carbon monoxide detector!