How Much Do You Know about CO?

Carbon monoxide alarm

We’ve all heard about the potential dangers of Carbon Monoxide (CO). But how much do you really know about CO? Here are some basics about CO and how to prevent problems with the gas in your home.

  1. What is carbon monoxide? Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless gas produced by burning heating oil, gasoline, coal, wood, charcoal, kerosene, propane, or natural gas. A buildup of CO in your home can cause illness, unconsciousness, or, in extreme cases, death.
  2. What causes a buildup of CO? A buildup of CO typically occurs due to improper ventilation or equipment breakdown. Some causes of CO buildup include:
    • Operating unvented appliances for too long
    • A damaged or improperly maintained heating system
    • Backdrafts caused by pressure imbalances near the heating appliance
    • A blocked flue or vent
  3. What are the symptoms of CO poisoning? Symptoms of CO poisoning vary depending on the amount of exposure to the gas:
    • Mild Cases – Flu-like headaches, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness.
    • Moderate Cases – Severe headaches, drowsiness, confusion, and disorientation
    • Extreme Cases – Unconsciousness, convulsions, heart failure, and in rare cases death.
  4. What should I do if I experience symptoms of CO poisoning? If you are symptomatic,
    • Get fresh air immediately. Open windows and doors, turn off fuel-burning appliances, and leave the house.
    • Call your fire department or 911 and report your symptoms to your doctor
    • Service all your fuel-burning appliances before turning them back on!
  5. What should you do if the CO alarm sounds? If the alarm signal sounds,
    • Immediately move outside to fresh air
    • Call your fire department or 911
    • DO NOT reenter the premises until responders have given you permission
    • If the source of the CO is determined to be a malfunctioning appliance, DO NOT use that appliance until a professional services the equipment
  6. How can I avoid CO problems in my home?
    • Educate yourself and your family about the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning and what to do if they experience them
    • Perform annual routine maintenance on all fuel-burning appliances – even new equipment
    • Install CO detectors in your home – especially in bedrooms.
    • Consider signing up for a CMC home energy audit, which includes comprehensive CAZ (Combustion Area Zone) testing. Developed by the Building Performance Institute (BPI), CAZ testing makes sure your fuel-burning appliances are operating correctly and safely. Contact CMC today to schedule your audit, or call to learn more: 203.774.4059!

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