Carbon Monoxide Poses Winter Weather Threat
WASHINGTON, D.C. ? According to Home Safety Council research, American families who will heat their homes over the cold weather season are unprepared for the risk of potential carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning present when fuel burning appliances are used. The Home Safety Council?s State of Home Safety in America? report shows that more than two-thirds of American households do not have CO alarms installed within their homes.

Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, and cannot be sensed without a CO alarm to detect the gas and alert residents. Young children and older adults are especially susceptible to CO poisoning when exposed to high volumes of carbon monoxide. The Home Safety Council recommends that every home be protected with at least one CO alarm, located near sleeping areas.

CO is a potentially deadly gas that is produced by fuel-burning heating equipment, such as furnaces, wood stoves, fireplaces, and kerosene heaters. CO is also produced by portable generators and cooking equipment. Homes with attached garages are at risk of CO poisoning because vehicles left running in the garage can cause CO to seep into the home.

?Carbon monoxide is known as the senseless killer because without a CO alarm it is virtually impossible to detect by sight, smell or taste before symptoms begin,? said Home Safety Council president Meri-K Appy. ?The Home Safety Council urges families to take proper steps to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and to act promptly if a potential exposure is suspected.?

Early symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to symptoms of the flu, and can include headache, dizziness, nausea and shortness of breath. If you suspect that CO is leaking in your home, follow these steps:

Open windows and doors to ventilate the rooms, or in severe cases of CO exposure, evacuate the home.
Call to report that you suspect CO is accumulating. Usually the appropriate agency to call is the fire department or 9-1-1.
Seek immediate medical treatment for anyone who has severe symptoms.

Follow the advice of the responding agency before re-entering your home, and quickly obtain repairs as needed.

Preventing CO Poisoning at Home

The Home Safety Council recommends the following to avoid CO poisoning in your home:

Purchase CO alarms that are listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Install at least one CO alarm in your home, near the sleeping areas.
Use appliances and equipment according to directions and only for their intended purposes. For example, use a range or cook stove only for cooking, never to heat your home.
Only use barbecue or gas grills outdoors. CO poisoning can result when grills are used inside a home, a garage or in an enclosed porch.
Electric generators must never be used inside the home or garage, or in any enclosed area. Follow usage directions closely.
Back vehicles out of the garage and close the door when warming up the engine. Have a trained professional inspect, clean and tune-up your central heating system before the heating season each year. Have a professional sweep inspect your chimneys once a year and clean them if needed.
If you have a wood stove, verify that it meets local fire codes. Contact your town?s fire marshal if you have questions. When purchasing a new wood stove or portable space heater, choose equipment that is UL-listed.
Open flues before using fireplaces.
Be aware that kerosene heaters are illegal in some areas.
Re-fuel kerosene heaters outdoors only, after the device has cooled.
Kerosene and gas heaters should always be used with ventilation, such as an open window.

For additional information and resources to help you learn more and stay safe in and around your home, please visit

About Home Safety Council

The Home Safety Council is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to helping prevent the nearly 21 million medical visits that occur on average each year from unintentional injuries in the home. Through national programs and partners across America, the Home Safety Council works to educate and empower families to take actions that help keep them safe in and around their homes. To learn more about the Council?s programs, partnerships and resources, visit the Home Safety Council at

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