Carbon Monoxide (CO) is produced by the incomplete combustion of the fossil fuels Ė gas, oil, coal and wood used in boilers, engines, oil burners, gas fires, water heaters, solid fuel appliances and open fires.
Dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide can accumulate when as a result of poor installation, poor maintenance or failure or damage to an appliance in service, the fuel is not burned properly, or when rooms are poorly ventilated and the carbon monoxide is unable to escape.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends installing at least one carbon monoxide detector with an audible alarm near the bedrooms. If a home has more than one story, a detector should be placed on each story. The following is a checklist for where to look for problem sources of carbon monoxide in the home:
Check the flame color of your appliances, if its orange you have a problem. However, blue does not necessarily mean its safe. Pilot lights can be a source of carbon monoxide because the by-products of combustion are released inside the home rather than vented outside. Get your appliances checked annually.
Check the flue, is it blocked? Do you have creeping plants growing up your walls? Do you have birds nesting in your flue? Completely remove these obstructions from the flue area and fit a guard to stop any birds nesting. Get your flue checked! Is it drawing properly? Was it fitted correctly in the first place?
Do you have a gas barbecue grill? They can be particularly hazardous. Is yours working correctly? Barbecue grills should never be operated indoors under any circumstances nor should stove tops or ovens that operate on flammable fuels be used to heat a residence.
Is there adequate ventilation? Be sure space heaters are vented properly. Unvented space heaters that use a flammable fuel such as kerosene can release carbon monoxide into the home. If the appliances in your home do not have enough air they will produce carbon monoxide. Check the clothes dryer vent opening outside the house for lint.
When were your appliances last checked? Do it every year donít leave it to chance. Remember the technician can only check the conditions on the day that he attends. Get protection year round, install a CO detector.
Do you suffer from unexplained illnesses? Fatigue, muscle pains, upset stomach, lethargy, dizziness, headaches? We all feel better when we go on vacation. If you feel especially invigorated it may be that you have been removed from the source of the poison. If your health goes into decline on your return it may be that it's not just post vacation blues, you may be suffering the ill effects from being poisoned from carbon monoxide in your home.
The most important thing that you can do to protect yourself and your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning is to get a carbon monoxide detector alarm.
What should you do when the Carbon Monoxide Detector/Alarm sounds?
Never ignore an alarming carbon monoxide alarm. Contact emergency services by calling 911 and immediately move to fresh air and wait for the arrival of the fire department. Hope Fire Company has specialized equipment to safely detect and locate carbon monoxide sources and hazards.