Often called the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be fatal in high concentrations. Every year, more than 400 people in the United States die from accidental non-fire related CO poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of burning oil, gas, wood, coal, pellets and kerosene. The only way to tell that carbon monoxide is present is to have a working CO alarm. At lower concentrations, victims may experience such symptoms as a headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.
On January 13, 2018 a carbon monoxide leak was discovered in a Roslindale neighborhood condo. There was one fatality and two women were transported to the hospital. According to Boston fire officials, the two women were treated for very high levels of carbon monoxide .
Although carbon monoxide detectors were installed as required by law, they were inoperable because they didn’t have batteries in them.
Here are some tips to help you prevent carbon monoxide poisoning during the cold and snowy New England winter.
- Keep your vents clear. During and after a snowstorm, be sure nothing obstructs the outside stack or vent for your stove, furnace, fireplace and dryer.
- Keep fireplaces clean and well-vented.
- If you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, keep it clean and make sure that the flue is working correctly.
- Don’t use a gas range or oven to heat your home.
- Never leave your vehicle’s motor running when it’s parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
- Never run a generator or any gasoline-powered engine inside your home, basement, garage or other enclosed structure even with the doors and windows open unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented.
- Never use a hibachi, charcoal grill, portable camping stove or lantern inside your home.
While it’s critical to have fully-functioning CO detectors in your home, the best protection is to have your alarm company monitor your home around the clock. If carbon monoxide levels reach dangerously high levels, the security command center staff will call first responders immediately and then call your home to alert anyone there and urge them to evacuate.