Dangers of Carbon Monoxide
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, tasteless, and non-irritating gas that is a natural by-product of combustion when fuel-burning appliances are operating. It is a silent killer.
These appliances can include gas furnaces, gas water heaters, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, gas ranges or ovens, gas dryers, kerosene heaters, charcoal / gas grills, lawnmowers, snow blowers, and chain saws. A crack in the flue system, blocked chimney, appliance malfunction, or a car left running in an attached garage are some of the ways CO can leak indoors, making residents sick.
Exposure Exposure to lower levels of CO over several hours can be just as dangerous as exposure to higher levels for a few minutes. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic the flu and include headache, fatigue, sleepiness, nausea, trouble breathing, diarrhea, and dizziness.
Those most at risk are children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with lung or heart disease. Early detection of carbon monoxide is possible with a UL listed carbon monoxide detector placed on every level of the home.
When a Carbon Monoxide detector is continuously sounding an audible alert, IMMEDIATELY call 911, leave the house, and wait outside for the fire department to arrive. It is also important to let the 911 dispatchers know if anyone is feeling ill.
Sometimes a Carbon Monoxide detector will beep or chirp intermittently, such as long pauses between beeps. This could mean a weak battery or faulty detector. Many of the manufacturers have a description on the CO detector, generally on the back, that describes what the beeps mean. In these situations you could change the battery or replace the unit and see if that fixes the problem. However, if in doubt, call the fire department!