Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning

There are many hazards in our home that we often overlook, carbon monoxide poisoning is one of these.  There is a simple solution to protect you and your family from becoming victims of this poison -- a Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarm. In addition to installing this very simple device (it is very similar to a smoke detector), the CPSC recommends "consumers to have a professional inspection of all fuel- burning appliances -- including furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, clothes dryers, water heaters, and space heaters -- to detect deadly carbon monoxide leaks."

-- Medical Editor, MedicineNet.com


Household Hazard - Carbon Monoxide "CO" Poisoning Warning

After a recent rash of carbon monoxide poisonings - including incidents in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey -- the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is repeating its recommendation that every home should have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm. CPSC also urges consumers to have a professional inspection of all fuel- burning appliances -- including furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, clothes dryers, water heaters, and space heaters -- to detect deadly carbon monoxide leaks.

These appliances burn fuels, such as gas, both natural and liquefied petroleum; kerosene; oil; coal; or wood. Under certain conditions, fuel-burning appliances can produce deadly CO. However, with proper installation and maintenance, they are safe to use.

CO is a colorless, odorless gas produced by burning any fuel. The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu, and include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. Exposure to high levels of CO can cause death.

"CO poisoning associated with using fuel-burning products kills more than 200 people each year," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown.

CPSC recommends that the yearly professional inspection include checking chimneys, flues and vents for leakage and blockage by creosote and debris. Leakage through cracks or holes could cause black stains on the outside of the chimney or flue. These stains can mean that pollutants are leaking into the house. In addition, have all vents to furnaces, water heaters, boilers and other fuel-burning appliances checked to make sure they are not loose or disconnected.

Make sure your appliances are inspected for adequate ventilation. A supply of fresh air is important to help carry pollutants up the chimney, stovepipe or flue, and is necessary for the complete combustion of any fuel. Never block ventilation air openings.

CPSC recommends that every home should have at least one CO alarm that meets the requirements of the most recent Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 2034 standard or International Approval Services 6-96 standard.

For more information about carbon monoxide poisoning, please see the MedicineNet.com:

(Source, CPSC January 18, 2001, Press Release #01-069)


Last Editorial Review: 1/23/2001 9:50:00 AM