Carbon monoxide is an invisible and odorless gas that comes from any heater that burns fuel. Carbon monoxide buildup can cause illness and death by suffocation.
Cold weather brings people indoors seeking warmth. Any heater that burns fuel, such as your furnace, gas water heater or a portable butane or gas heater, produces carbon monoxide that can leak into the air. Mild exposure to carbon monoxide can cause symptoms such as nausea, dizziness or headaches. Severe poisoning can result in brain or heart damage or even death.
Have furnaces and heaters inspected every year. Carbon monoxide is invisible, odorless and tasteless. Inspection helps protect yourself and your family.
Install a carbon monoxide detector in your house, and plan to check its battery every time you check your smoke detector batteries.
Precautions you can take to prevent carbon monoxide exposure:
- Never burn anything in a stove or fireplace that is not vented properly
- Never heat your house with a gas oven
- Never run a generator indoors, in an enclosed space such as a basement, or near a window
- Do not warm your car up in a closed garage
- If your garage is attached to your house, close the door to the house even while you warm up the car
Carbon monoxide is one of the most common industrial hazards. Most carbon monoxide exposure comes from internal combustion engines. Forges, blast furnaces and coke ovens also produce carbon monoxide.
Suggestions for business employers and the public:
- Install an effective ventilation system to remove carbon monoxide.
- Maintain appliances and equipment in good order. Have a certified heating and ventilation technician check your furnace for proper ventilation and exhaust.
- Install carbon monoxide monitors and regularly test the air in areas where carbon monoxide is generated. Check monitors monthly for proper function.
- Make sure your workplace has an evacuation plan in place. Each office on each floor should designate a captain to be responsible for conducting an accurate head count of the floor’s staff. Such a plan greatly assists fire officials in determining if a building is empty.