What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly, colorless poisonous gas which is undetectable to human senses. It is produced as an incomplete burning of fossil fuels such as natural gas, gasoline, kerosene, propane and wood. Most fuel burning appliances, if properly installed, vented, used in the proper location and maintained, pose little or no danger.
If you inhale carbon monoxide it enters your blood steam and robs oxygen from your blood cells. Low levels of carbon monoxide exposure can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea, fatigue, dizziness and mild headaches. Moderate levels of exposure can cause severe headaches, drowsiness, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination and mental confusion. Severe exposure can result in unconsciousness and death.
How Can You Prevent Exposure to Carbon Monoxide?
Follow these simple rules:
- Make sure appliances are installed and operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes.
- Never service fuel-burning equipment appliances without proper knowledge, skill and tools. Always refer to the owners manual when performing minor adjustments or servicing fuel-burning equipment.
- Never operate a portable generator or any other gasoline engine-powered tool either in or near an enclosed space such as a garage, house, or other building. Even with open doors and windows, these spaces can trap CO and allow it to quickly build to lethal levels.
- Do not cover the bottom of natural gas or propane ovens with aluminum foil. Doing so blocks the combustion air flow through the appliance and can produce CO.
- Have a qualified professional routinely inspect appliance vents and chimney flues annually for blockages, corrosion, cracks or leakage.
- Never run your car or any non-vented fuel burning equipment in an enclosed space.
- Install and maintain a CO alarm that meets current safety standards (UL 2034 or CSA 6.19) and make sure the alarm cannot be covered up by furniture or draperies.
What do you do if you suspect the presence of carbon monoxide?
- Immediately move outside to fresh air. Get everyone out of the building and make sure no one goes back in until you are sure it’s safe.
- Call your emergency services; fire department or 911 and seek medical attention for anyone who exhibits the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Call West Coast Gas Company Inc.’s emergency number, 916-364-4102, from a safe location.
- If the source of CO is determined to be a malfunctioning appliance, DO NOT operate that appliance until it has been properly serviced by trained personnel.