New Lenox Fire Protection District
Carbon Monoxide, the Invisible Killer
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By Member Jackie O'Hara
January 15, 2021

Carbon monoxide, also known as CO, is called the “Invisible Killer” because it's a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. More than 150 people in the Unites States die every year from accidental non fire-related CO poisoning associated with consumer products, including generators. Other products include faulty, improperly-used or incorrectly-vented fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces.

Because CO is odorless, colorless, and otherwise undetectable to the human senses, people may not know that they are being exposed. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include:
• Headache
• Fatigue
• Shortness of breath
• Nausea
• Dizziness

High level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including:
• Mental confusion
• Vomiting
• Loss of muscular coordination
• Loss of consciousness
• Ultimately death

Stay safe from CO by following a few simple safety tips:
• Install and maintain CO alarms inside your home to provide early warning of carbon monoxide.
• CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home.
• Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
• CO alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and the sound of CO
alarms.


Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission & USFA


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