Carbon Monoxide
The leading cause of poisoning deaths in America

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas. Because you cannot see it, taste it, or smell it,
Carbon Monoxide can kill you before you know it is present.

Who is at risk?

Everyone is at risk for Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Experts believe, however, that individuals
with greater oxygen requirements such as unborn babies, infants, children, elderly and people
with coronary or respiratory problems are at greater risk.

Why is Carbon Monoxide so dangerous?

The danger of Carbon Monoxide is its attraction to the hemoglobin in the bloodstream. Carbon
Monoxide is breathed in through the lungs and bonds with the hemoglobin in the blood, displacing
the oxygen cells. When Carbon Monoxide is present in the air, it rapidly accumulates in the blood,
forming a toxic compound known as Caroxyhemoglobin (COHb).

Where does Carbon Monoxide come from?

Carbon Monoxide is a by-product of combustion, present whenever fuel is burned. It is produced
by home appliances such as gas or oil furnaces, refrigerators, clothes dryers, water heaters,
fireplaces, charcoal grills, gas ranges, wood burning stoves and space heaters. Fumes from automobiles
also contain Carbon Monoxide and can enter the home through walls or doorways if a automobile is
left running in an attached garage. All of these items can contribute to a Carbon Monoxide problem
in the home. With today's energy efficient homes, they are well insulated and this causes a problem
with ventilation. You must make sure that all appliances are vented properly, along with your home,
to keep the possibility low that Carbon Monoxide will build up in your home.

How can I protect myself and my family from Carbon Monoxide?

It is recommended that you install at least one Carbon Monoxide detector in your home, near the
bedrooms. A second detector near your furnace provides extra protection. When choosing a Carbon Monoxide detector, make sure it is a Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listed detector that sounds an
audible alert. There are numerous companies that make them, from battery operated to ones you plug
into an outlet to ones you plug into an outlet and also has a battery in it in case the power goes out.

Common sources of Carbon Monoxide

Blocked chimney opening
Clogged chimney
Portable heaters
Gas or wood burning fireplace
Improperly installed gas range or cook top vent
Gas clothes dryer
Leaking chimney flue pipe
Cracked heat exchanger
Operating gas grilles in an enclosed area
Corroded or disconnected water heater vent pipe

If you still have questions regarding Carbon Monoxide, contact your local Fire Department and
a member will assist you with your questions.