The "Silent Killer"
Carbon monoxide (CO) is called the "silent killer." Colorless, odorless and tasteless, it can invade your home without warning. As you breathe it in, the CO displaces the oxygen you need to survive. It quickly accumulates in your bloodstream, forming a toxic compound called carboxyhemoglobin (car-box-see-HEE-muh-glow-bin). Even in small quantities it can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, irregular breathing, sleepiness and confusion. In larger concentrations it leads to unconsciousness and death.
Here are some important things to keep in mind about carbon monoxide safety:
Whether you heat your home with natural gas, oil, propane, coal or wood, your heating system can produce toxic CO if it is not working properly or not vented correctly.
Signs of CO include stuffy, stale or smelly air, very high humidity or soot coming from a fireplace or heating system.
Reduce the risk of CO poisoning by having your heating equipment "tuned up" each year, preferably before the heating season begins.
Chimney Safety - A plugged or blocked chimney could cause the products of combustion to back up and filter through your home and that is very dangeruous to your health. Have your chimney or vent pipes checked for blockage at the same time. If you have a continued concern or if you notice evidence of chimney deterioration, it is suggested you contact a qualified chimney expert right away for corrective repairs. (Refer to the telephone yellow pages under "Chimney Builders, Chimney Repairs, Heating Contractors or Home Repairs.")
High efficiency furnaces, water heaters and other energy-saving appliances may have exhaust vents that exit your building through an exterior wall rather than through a chimney. These vents can become blocked in the winter months by snow and ice, which can affect the safe operation of the appliance. Therefore, please ensure that all snow, ice and other obstructions are removed from your venting systems.
Also make sure your home is adequately ventilated, particularly if you have added insulation to your home, had major renovations done or have enclosed your heating system to increase living space.
Symptoms of CO poisoning are often confused with flu symptoms and the number of poisoning cases often increases at the start of the flu season.
Seek medical attention immediately if CO is detected.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors Can Save Lives
A properly installed CO detector can alert you to its presence. If the alarm sounds,
GET OUT OF THE HOME QUICKLY
. Call the fire department from another location and ask them to check your home for the presence of CO.
On Friday, November 4, 2005, Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts,
signed S. 2152 “Nicole’s Law.” This law requires that every dwelling, building
or structure, including those owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
occupied in whole or in part for residential purposes and that (1) contain fossil fuel burning equipment or (2) incorporate closed parking within its structure, be equipped by the owner with approved carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in conformance with the Board of Fire Prevention Regulations. Some highlights of the law include:
• Landlords must inspect, maintain and replace, if necessary, required
CO alarms at the beginning of any rental period.
• Every affected residential dwelling, building or structure shall be inspected
by the fire department upon sale or transfer.
• The Department of Public Health is required to adopt and enforce this
requirement on landlords as part of the State Sanitary Code.
The effective date of compliance for all non-hardwired residences is March 31, 2006 and January 1, 2007 for all hardwired residences.
Using a Gas Range
Nothing cooks food better than a gas range, but
use your gas range to heat your home or apartment. This practice creates a serious fire hazard and puts you and your family at risk from dangerous carbon monoxide fumes. Your range was designed only to heat your food, not your home.