Carbon Monoxide Poising
By Deputy Chief Vincent Fanelli
December 21, 2023

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a silent and deadly threat that every household should be aware of. In recent news, a family of five in Texas was hospitalized after being exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide in their home. This incident serves as a reminder of the importance of having carbon monoxide detectors installed in every household.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is produced by the incomplete combustion of fuels such as natural gas, propane, wood, and gasoline. When inhaled, carbon monoxide can quickly lead to poisoning, causing symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, and confusion. In high levels, carbon monoxide exposure can be fatal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 400 people die each year in the United States from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, with thousands more being hospitalized. This is why having carbon monoxide detectors installed in homes is crucial for the safety of individuals and their families.

Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to alert residents when the gas is present in dangerous levels, giving them the opportunity to evacuate the premises and seek medical attention. Furthermore, it is recommended to have carbon monoxide detectors installed in every level of the home, including bedrooms and near fuel-burning appliances.

Experts emphasize that regular maintenance of fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, water heaters, and stoves is also essential in preventing carbon monoxide leaks. Additionally, ensuring proper ventilation and not using portable generators or BBQ grills indoors are important measures to take to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide exposure.

In the wake of the recent incident in Texas, fire departments and health officials are urging the public to prioritize the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in their homes. They also advise homeowners to replace their detectors every 5-7 years, as the sensors can degrade over time.

As winter approaches and residents begin to use heating systems, it is especially crucial to raise awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide and the importance of having functioning detectors in place. By taking these preventive measures, individuals can avoid the potentially fatal consequences of carbon monoxide poisoning and ensure the safety of their loved ones.