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Carbon Monoxide Gas: 
Know the Sources, Clues & Signs of Exposure!

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that can cause illness and even death. This poisonous gas is absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream where it inhibits the blood’s capacity to transport oxygen throughout the body. It may build up in parts of your home such as in your kitchen, garage, basement or fireplace area. Improperly adjusted burners or poorly ventilated flues for any fuel burning appliance will accumulate carbon monoxide in the home.

Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

Clues You Can See

  • Rusting or water streaking on vent/chimney

  • Loose or missing furnace panel

  • Sooting

  • Loose or disconnected vent/chimney connections

  • Debris or soot falling from chimney, fireplace or appliance

  • Loose masonry on chimney

  • Moisture inside of windows

Clues You Cannot See

  • Internal appliance damage or malfunctioning components

  • Improper burner adjustment

  • Hidden blockage or damage in chimneys

What You Can Do

  • Make sure appliances are installed according to manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes. Most appliances should be installed by professionals.

  • Have the heating system (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually.

  • Follow manufacturer’s directions for safe operation.

  • Examine vents and chimneys regularly for improper connections, visible rust or stains.

  • Notice problems that could indicate improper appliance operation:

  • Decreasing hot water supply

  • Furnace unable to heat house or runs constantly

  • Sooting, especially on appliances

  • Unfamiliar or burning odor

What You Should Not Do

  • Never burn charcoal indoors or in a garage.  

  • Never service appliances without proper knowledge, skills and tools.

  • Never use the gas range or oven for heating.

  • Never leave a car running in a garage.

  • Never operate un-vented gas-burning appliances in a closed room.

Symptoms of Exposure

Early–
  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Nausea

Prolonged–
  • Coma

  • Brain damage

  • Death

Courtesy of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Lung Association.

 

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