Brr! It’s getting cold outside. It’s the time of year to turn on your furnace or heaters to stay warm.
Did you know many heating devices can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas, that can quickly incapacitate and kill you? More than 400 persons die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Sources of carbon monoxide in addition to malfunctioning furnaces and room heaters include cars, malfunctioning fuel burning appliances such as ranges and water heaters, and engine powered equipment such as portable generators. Burning charcoal in fireplaces inside the home or semi-enclosed areas can also result in lethal levels of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Modern furnaces performance to vent carbon monoxide does not always provide consumer protection from carbon monoxide leakage under a number of conditions that commonly occur. These conditions include disconnected vents, partially blocked vents, over-fired furnaces, and furnaces that have inadequate air for combustion. These common scenarios underscore the need to provide consumers with more comprehensive protection against carbon monoxide poisoning.
Following the safety hierarchy, it is always best to eliminate a hazard of carbon monoxide through design, to the extent reasonably possible. Any remaining hazards need to be guarded against, to the extent reasonably possible. However, as consumers, the most immediate action we can take is to provide in our homes and perhaps work places carbon monoxide detectors/alarms.
Look around in your home. Do you have carbon monoxide detector(s)/alarm(s)? If so, have you replaced the batteries and ensured they are in functioning order?
For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning, please visit the CPSC website.