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Exposing an invisible_killer_-_a_factsheet_on_the_dangers_of_carbon_monoxide_(from_www.usfa.fema.gov)
Exposing an Invisible Killer A Factsheet on the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide
ach year in America, unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning claims more than
500 lives and sends another 15,200 people to hospital emergency rooms for treatment.1
The U. S. Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Association of Home Builders
(NAHB) would like you to know that there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself from
deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
UNDERSTANDING THE RISK IF NO ONE IS FEELING ILL: adult would experience symptoms. It
is very possible that you may not be
1. Silence the alarm. experiencing symptoms when you
WHAT IS CARBON MONOXIDE? hear the alarm. This does not mean that
2. Turn off all appliances and sources
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, CO is not present.
of combustion (i.e. furnace and
colorless and toxic gas. Because it is
replace). • Have a quali ed professional check
impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic
all fuel burning appliances, furnaces,
fumes, CO can kill you before you are 3. Ventilate the house with fresh air by
venting and chimney systems at least
aware it is in your home. At lower levels opening doors and windows.
once a year.
of exposure, CO causes mild effects that
4. Call a quali ed professional to
are often mistaken for the u. These • Never use your range or oven to
investigate the source of the possible
symptoms include headaches, dizziness, help heat your home and never use a
disorientation, nausea and fatigue. The charcoal grill or hibachi in your home
effects of CO exposure can vary greatly or garage.
from person to person depending on IF ILLNESS IS A FACTOR:
• Never keep a car running in a garage.
age, overall health and the concentration 1. Evacuate all occupants immediately. Even if the garage doors are open,
and length of exposure.
2. Determine how many occupants are normal circulation will not provide
ill and determine their symptoms. enough fresh air to reliably prevent a
WHERE DOES CARBON 3. Call your local emergency number
dangerous buildup of CO.
MONOXIDE COME FROM? • When purchasing an existing home,
and when relaying information to
CO gas can come from several sources: the dispatcher, include the number of have a quali ed technician evaluate the
gas- red appliances, charcoal grills, people feeling ill. integrity of the heating and cooking
wood-burning furnaces or replaces and systems, as well as the sealed spaces
motor vehicles. 4. Do not re-enter the home without between the garage and house. The
the approval of a re department presence of a carbon monoxide alarm
representative. in your home can save your life in the
WHO IS AT RISK? 5. Call a quali ed professional to repair event of CO buildup.
Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning. the source of the CO. 1
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Medical experts believe that unborn
babies, infants, children, senior citizens PROTECT YOURSELF AND
and people with heart or lung problems For more information contact:
are at even greater risk for CO poisoning. YOUR FAMILY FROM CO The U. S. Fire Administration
POISONING 16825 South Seton Avenue
• Install at least one UL (Underwriters Emmitsburg, MD 21727
WHAT ACTIONS DO I TAKE Laboratories) listed carbon monoxide or
alarm with an audible warning Visit the USFA Web site:
IF MY CARBON MONOXIDE signal near the sleeping areas and www.usfa.fema.gov
ALARM GOES OFF? outside individual bedrooms. Carbon
What you need to do if your carbon monoxide alarms measure levels of CO
monoxide alarm goes off depends on over time and are designed to sound Homeland
whether anyone is feeling ill or not. an alarm before an average, healthy Security