Carbon Monoxide (CO): The Invisible Killer
Carbon Monoxide, also known as “CO”, is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that is a byproduct of incomplete combustion of fuels such as natural gas, propane, wood, coal, gasoline and oil. CO is called the invisible killer because you don’t know it is present and can initially present with flu-like symptoms.
Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized, according to the CDC. Everyone is at risk of CO poisoning, especially infants, the elderly, and those with chronic heart disease, breathing problems or anemia. Prolonged exposure to CO can cause you to pass out or kill you. If you are intoxicated or sleeping, you could die before experiencing any symptoms of CO poisning.
Symptoms of CO poisoning can include:
- Upset stomach
- Chest pain
You can help prevent exposure to CO by doing the following:
- Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors (Battery or Electric w/Battery Back-up) near sleeping areas so that you can be sure it will wake you up. Change the batteries in the spring and fall. Check monthly.
- Have all of your gas/oil appliances service each year prior to first use by a qualified technician.
- Never use you stove or oven to provide heat in your home.
- Have your chimney, fireplace/wood burning stove and flue inspected each year prior to first use.
- Never run a generator indoors.
- Never use outdoor appliances (grill, camping stove, heaters, etc.) indoors.
- Never run your car inside your garage.
Recent CO related incidents in Fairfax County:
- 8/24/2017 – 2 Children & 3 Adults Hospitalized due to Carbon Monoxide
- 1/25/2016 – 7 Residents from Herndon Apartment Hospitalized due to CO Poisoning
- 7/24/2013 - Carbon monoxide poisoning in Falls Church sends 3 to hospital
For More Information: (information for this PSA obtain from the following resources)
- Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department Carbon Monoxide Alarm Program
- National Safety Council: Carbon Monoxide: The Invisible Killer
- NFPA: Carbon Monoxide
For more assistance Contact Your Local Fire Station, If in doubt or an emergency, CALL 911