The Orange Fire Marshal’s Office in cooperation with the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges the community to be aware of the important facts and safety issues regarding carbon monoxide (CO). Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious threat.
We offer the following information to educate the public on the dangers of carbon monoxide in order to reduce the health risk, as well as to save lives.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless, toxic gas that is a product of combustion. The CO produced while using fuel-fired equipment is usually not harmful. However, increased carbon monoxide levels in homes are caused by faulty heating equipment, poor maintenance of exhaust systems, or something as simple as allowing a vehicle to warm up in an attached garage during cold winter days. Follow these preventative measures to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. At the beginning of every heating season, be sure to have fuel burning equipment such as oil or gas fired furnaces, fireplaces, and wood stoves inspected by certified technicians. Be sure appliances such as water heaters, oven ranges, and clothes dryers are working properly.
Check flues and chimneys for any buildup of creosote or blockage of the chimney. Maintain all fuel-fired equipment as described by the manufacturer’s specifications.
• NEVER leave a car running in an attached garage. The vapors from the vehicle’s exhaust could increase the level of carbon monoxide in a home in a matter of minutes!
• NEVER use a gas stove to heat a home in the event of a power failure or heating equipment failure.
• NEVER use charcoal or propane grills indoors. Not only does this pose an extreme carbon monoxide hazard, it is also a severe fire hazard as well.
Think safety first when considering the use of alternative heating, such as space heaters. The space heater should be placed at a minimum of three feet from any combustible object.
Make sure that all fuel-fired space heaters are equipped with oxygen depletion sensors. Do not use gasoline-powered equipment in enclosed areas of the home. Such engines create a mass amount of carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide is harmful when breathed because it attaches to hemoglobin, the part of the blood that carries oxygen to the brain, heart, and other vital organs. CO displaces the oxygen, thus depriving the body of this much needed element. Without warning, large amounts of CO can overcome a person in minutes, causing loss of consciousness and suffocation.
Because carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas, it is not always immediately evident when there is a problem. All too often, people who have mild or moderate problems with carbon monoxide find that they feel sick while they spend time at home, but when going outside begin to feel much better. Then, shortly after returning home, the symptoms reoccur.
People who are most susceptible to the effects of carbon monoxide are infants, the elderly, those who suffer from respiratory or heart disease or are anemic and women who are pregnant. However, no one is immune to the effects of carbon monoxide. Some symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, vomiting, pain, chronic fatigue, dizziness, numbness, tingling, vertigo, verbal and/or visual deficits, irritability, anxiety, temper, blurred and double vision, buzzing in the ears, decreased coordination, speaking, eating, and swallowing disorders, seizures, inability to speak, balance problems and tremors.
Should you suspect that there may be an increased level of carbon monoxide in your home, or you have installed the recommended carbon monoxide alarms in your residence and the alarm sounds, follow these simple steps to help resolve the problem. First and foremost, leave the building!
CALL 9-1-1 This important step will allow trained first responders to investigate the possible presence of carbon monoxide. DO NOT HESITATE TO CALL THIS EMERGENCY NUMBER! Get any suspected victim into fresh air immediately. If you can not get the victim out of the house, open all of the windows and doors to allow fresh air into the home. Be sure to turn off any fuel-fired appliances. Those persons who have been exposed to elevated levels of carbon monoxide should be taken to the closest hospital as soon as possible. A simple blood test will determine the amount of carbon monoxide in the bloodstream.
The Orange Fire Marshal’s Office Community Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Program will provide and install alarms free of charge to Orange residents. If you have any questions regarding fire safety or wish to have smoke alarms and/or carbon monoxide alarms provided and/or installed in your home, please contact The Orange Fire Marshal’s Office at 355 Boston Post Road, at (203) 891-4711 on Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM., or visit the website at www.orangefiremarshal.com