Carbon Monoxide Awareness

Did You Know?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly gas that is difficult to detect because it is odorless and invisible. As a result, it is known as “the silent killer.” According to the CDC, 450 people die and nearly 21,000 CO exposures occur each year.

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

CO is produced by fuel-burning appliances and equipment in our homes. If you have heating, cooking or power equipment that use fuels such as oil, natural gas, coal, wood, propane, gasoline, etc., then your home is at risk for potential CO poisoning. Homes with attached garages are also at risk, because vehicles left running in the garage can cause CO to seep into the home.

CO poisoning can be prevented by proper care and use of household equipment. CO alarms can provide early detection if CO leaks, or accumulation occurs. Both are important for your safety.

If you suspect CO poisoning in your home, call the appropriate responding agency, usually your local fire department or 9-1-1. Keep all emergency response numbers posted by every telephone.

CO alarms are different from smoke alarms and have different functions. CO alarms do not provide early warning of a fire. Smoke alarms do not provide early warning of CO exposure. Your home needs both CO and smoke alarm protection.

Symptoms of CO poisoning are like symptoms of the flu, and can include headache, dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath. To distinguish between symptoms of flu and CO poisoning – if you feel better after leaving home and then worse again when you return, it may be CO exposure causing the symptoms. If your CO alarm sounds, check to see if it is plugged in properly, or if battery-powered, check the battery to be sure the device is operating.

If you suspect that CO is leaking in your home, follow these steps:

  1. Open windows and doors to ventilate the rooms, or in severe cases of CO exposure, evacuate the home.
  2. Call to report that you suspect CO is accumulating. Usually, the appropriate agency to call is the fire department or 9-1-1.
  3. Seek immediate medical treatment for anyone who has severe symptoms.
  4. Follow the advice of the responding agency before re-entering your home, and quickly obtain repairs as needed.

Holiday Lights & Decorations

Maintain Your Holiday Lights

Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets

Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires — they should not be warm to the touch.

Do Not Leave Holiday Lights on Unattended!

Use Only Nonflammable Decorations

All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.

Never Put Wrapping Paper in a Fireplace

It can throw off dangerous sparks and produce a chemical buildup in the home that could cause an explosion.

Artificial Holiday Trees

If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

Use Care with Candles

Candles Can Be Dangerous. If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning. Never put lit candles on a tree. Do not go near a holiday tree with an open flame—candles, lighters or matches.

Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and always equipped with fresh batteries. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan.