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Carbon Monoxide "The Silent Killer"
February 5, 2014

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless, invisible, poisonous gas. It is a product of incomplete combustion of various fuels such as: gasoline, oil, natural gas, propane, coal and wood.

Often called “The Silent Killer”, a person can be poisoned by small amounts of CO over a long period of time or by large amounts over a short period of time. CO combines to your body’s hemoglobin (red blood cells) 200 times more than oxygen.

According to The Journal of the American Medical Association (JEMA) unintentional CO poisoning accounts for an estimated 15,000 emergency room visits and 500 unintentional deaths in the United State each year. Many hospitals report it is harder to determine the exact number of CO poisoning because the symptoms resemble that of many other common ailments such as the flu or the common cold.

During 2013 the Independence Fire Department responded to 136 CO calls with the majority occurring during the winter months.

Carbon Monoxide detectors that are installed properly are the most reliable device for early carbon monoxide detection in your home. A working carbon monoxide detector could mean the difference between life or death.

The Independence Fire Department does not recommend any brand of CO detector over another. We do recommend that you purchase detectors that are AC powered with battery back-up and have a digital display.

Protect yourself and your family from CO poisoning by following this simple steps:

  • Install a UL listed Carbon Monoxide detector on every level of your home.
  • Test the CO detector monthly.
  • Replace the CO detector every 2 to 5 years.
  • Never run a vehicle or power equipment in a garage or indoors.
  • Never use portable fuel-burning space heaters inside a home or garage unless it is specifically designed for indoor use.
  • Have chimneys, fire places, wood stove, hot water tank, and all home heating and cooking appliances professionally inspected and repaired yearly.
  • Inspect chimneys and flues for blockages, metal corrosion,  or loose separations points in metal or mortar flue liners.

If a CO detector goes off, or if anyone is experiencing CO poisoning symptoms, everyone should exit the structure immediately. Call 911 immediately from a cell-phone or neighbor's house to report the alarm. Do not waste time turning off fuel-burning equipment or opening doors and windows.

The Independence Fire Department wants to help you prepare, plan, and protect your family from CO poisoning.

Remember…  Carbon Monoxide detectors are not a replacement for a smoke alarm. Install a smoke alarm on each level of your home and one outside each sleeping area.

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