HOME SAFETY SPOTLIGHT
CO - What is it?
Carbon monoxide, also known as "CO", is a colorless, odorless, poisonous
gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of solid, liquid and gaseous
fuel. Therefore, any fuel-burning appliance in your home is a potential CO
When appliances are kept in good working condition, they produce little
CO. Improperly operating appliances can produce fatal CO concentrations in
your home. In addition, using charcoal indoors or running a car in an
attached garage can also cause deadly CO poisoning in your home.
CO - What are the symptoms?
The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without
the fever). They include:
- Shortness of breath
Many people with CO poisoning mistake their symptoms for the flu or are
misdiagnosed by physicians, which sometimes results in tragic deaths.
Carbon monoxide (CO) clues you can see:
- Rusting or water streaking on vent/chimney
- Loose or missing furnace panel
- Loose or disconnected vent/chimney connections
- Debris or soot falling from chimney, fireplace or appliance
- Loose masonry on chimney
- Moisture inside of windows
Carbon monoxide (CO) clues you cannot see:
- Internal appliance damage or malfunctioning components
- Improper burner adjustment
- Hidden blockage or damage in chimneys
Only a trained service technician can detect hidden problems and correct
CO - Facts
- Every year, over 200 people in the United States die from CO produced
by fuel-burning appliances (furnaces, ranges, water heaters, room heaters). (A more rec
- ent review claims
CO as the leading cause of more than 15,000 accidental poisoning deaths
in the United States each year and another 10,000 injuries according to the
Carbon Monoxide Medical Association)
- Others die from CO produced while burning charcoal inside a home,
garage, vehicle or tent.
- Still others die from CO produced by cars left running in attached
- Several thousand people go to hospital emergency rooms for treatment
for CO poisoning.
- On September 15, 1993, Chicago, Illinois became one of the first
cities in the nation to adopt an ordinance requiring, effective October 1,
1994, the installation of CO detectors/alarms in all new single-family
homes and in existing single-family residences that have new oil or gas
furnaces. Several other cities also require CO detectors/alarms in
apartment buildings and single-family dwellings.
- CPSC recommends that every home have a CO detector/alarm that meets
the requirements of the current UL standard 2034 in the hallway near every
separate sleeping area. CPSC also works with industry to develop voluntary
and mandatory standards for fuel-burning appliances.
- CO detectors/alarms are available for boats and recreational vehicles
and should be used. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association requires
CO detectors/alarms in motor homes and in tow-able recreational vehicles
that have a generator or are prepped for a generator.
- Make sure appliances are installed according to manufacturer's
instructions and local building codes. Most appliances should be installed
by professionals. Have the heating system (including chimneys and vents)
inspected and serviced annually. The inspector should also check chimneys
and flues for blockages, corrosion, partial and complete disconnections,
and loose connections.
- Install a CO detector/alarm that meets the requirements of the current
UL standard 2034 (ANSI/UL 2034-02) or the requirements of the IAS 6-96 standard. A carbon
monoxide detector/alarm can provide added protection, but is no substitute
for proper use and upkeep of appliances that can produce CO. Install a CO
detector/alarm in the hallway near every separate sleeping area of the
home. Make sure the detector cannot be covered up by furniture or
U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Office of Information and Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20207