Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
About 230 people die each year from Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning related to fuel burning household appliances, such as furnaces, space heaters, water heaters, clothes dryers, kitchen ranges, wood stoves and fireplaces.
Each year, approximately 25 people die and hundreds more suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning when they burn charcoal in enclosed areas such as their homes - in a bedroom or living room for heat or cooking. Some also burn charcoal in campers or vans, or in tents.
When inhaled, carbon monoxide, a tasteless, odorless gas, is easily absorbed into the blood. The gas is lethal when it replaces the amount of oxygen needed to sustain heart and brain function.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and nausea, are often dismissed as a "touch of the flu," even by doctors.
- Never use a vented-type heater without proper venting and flue (chimney).
- Follow manufacturer's recommendations for the proper size heater and for its installation, maintenance and use. Have it professionally installed, if possible.
- Have your heater installation checked by the local fire marshal, building inspector, or gas company before lighting.
- Never use a heater that is in disrepair. Always keep your heater in proper operating condition.
- Turn off the heater if the burner flame looks strange, i.e., yellow flames, unsteady flames, or smoky flames.
- Turn off the heater, ventilate the room and get into the fresh air if you feel other than normal, i.e., headache, nausea, fuzzy vision-remember CO does not have a odor and you may become unconscious before you realize there is a problem.
- Make sure the venting system is open-a blocked vent can cause your space heater to exhaust CO into your living space.
- Never sleep in a room where a gas heater is burning.
- Do not operate a gas heater in a completely 'tight' room. The heater needs a source of fresh air to operate safely and efficiently. 'Crack' a window, if needed.
(Some information provided by Consumer Product Safety Commission.)