Baltimore County News
Public Safety Information Specialist
Carbon monoxide (CO) is deadly. A byproduct of any combustible fuel, CO is tasteless, odorless and colorless. Death from CO poisoning can happen in a matter of hours.
The most recent national data shows a mortality rate of 430 deaths per year. At least 15,000 people are sent to the emergency room every year because of CO. It doesn’t have to happen.
CO is measured in parts per million (ppm). The higher the ppm level, the greater danger and the less time it will take to become seriously ill – or die.
The longer a person is exposed to CO, the greater the chance for serious illness or death.
At 200 ppm, a patient will experience mild headache, fatigue, nausea and dizziness after two to three hours. As the ppm rise, the symptoms intensify.
At 800 ppm, a patient will experience convulsions after 45 minutes and may become unconscious and die within two to three hours.
Death by carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable.
What precautions should you take?
- Install CO detectors in your home. The CO alarm saves lives by letting you know you have a CO problem.
- Place one near sleeping areas and one in the living areas.
- Test CO alarms once a month.
- CO alarms have two sounds. One sound is the alarm and the other sound means the battery is low. Test them to know the difference.
- If the battery is low, replace it.
- If the alarm sounds, leave immediately and get outside to the fresh air. Call 911 from a fresh air location. DO NOT open the windows or doors other than your exit door. Fire fighters will need to take a reading of the CO levels to determine the source of the leak.
- CO detectors are sold in national chain stores and hardware stores.
- Keep generators at least 15 feet from doors and windows.
- Never use gas or charcoal grills inside the home.Don’t use gas ovens to heat the house.
- Check gas appliances regularly as they can be a source for CO leaks.
- Never leave your vehicle running in the garage even if the car tailpipe is facing out of the garage. Take the vehicle outside.
- In the event of snow, clear tailpipes on all vehicles.
- Clear snow from dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace vents. During a major snowstorm, you’ll probably need to do this a few times.
- Leave the fireplace vent open after putting out the fire. You may close the glass doors, but not the vent. Hot embers produce CO if air is cut off. If you must close the vent, place the embers and ashes in a metal container; place it outside, away from the house.
Stay safe – get a CO alarm!
Revised April 6, 2016