Carbon Monoxide and CO Detectors

What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas produced from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels that produce CO include wood, natural gas, coal, and petroleum products such as gasoline, kerosene, and propane many of which are found and used in homes everyday for heating and cooking. When heating or cooking with natural gas or propane pilot lights should burn as a crisp blue flame. Sooty smoke or flapping yellow flames are an indication of unclean burning.

What are the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning?
CO poisoning can mimic other illnesses but include flushed face, headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. Over exposure to Carbon Monoxide can be fatal. Many times a person feels ill or has a headache for several mornings after waking up. After going to work for a few hours they can start to feel better. It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning and seek help to correct the problem.

How can I protect me and my family?
First off, it’s extremely important to have a Carbon Monoxide detector on every level of your home. CO is slightly lighter than air so it’s necessary to mount it on the ceiling at least 15 feet away from any potential CO producing appliance such as the hot water heater, gas range/stove, etc. Also the batteries must be changed twice a year to ensure it will function when needed. The most common times to change the batteries are on the spring and autumn solstices.

Your fossil fuel burning appliances such as your furnace, water heater, and chimney should be inspected by a qualified technician annually. When purchasing any of these units be sure that they have been approved by a company such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
When there is a CO detector alarming it is important to call 911 immediately. The North Warren Volunteer Fire Department or you local fire department will arrive to inspect your home for Carbon Monoxide. Do not attempt to ventilate the home by opening doors and windows. It’s important to keep the house closed up to make it easier to find the source of the problem. While the local fire department will attempt to find the source of the problem they are not there to fix or rectify it. Once a potential source of CO is confirmed it is up to the home owner to contact the professionals to fix the problem whether it is a heating repair man or hot water tank specialist.