Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the
nation, claiming approximately 300 lives a year, according to the
National Fire Protection Association.
Because CO is an odorless,
colorless, tasteless gas, it can kill people before they realize its
presence. It can be produced by gas or oil appliances such as
furnaces, clothes dryers, water heaters, ovens, space heaters or, in
some cases, by fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.
"People may believe that a beep coming out of their CO alarm
means it's time for a battery change, when in fact it means that the
device needs to be replaced," said State Fire Marshal Larry
Matkaitis. "The replacement of dead carbon monoxide alarms is a
Since January 2007, an Illinois law requires citizens to have
properly placed and functioning CO alarms in all dwelling units that
have an attached garage or fossil fuel-burning capabilities. In
addition, alarms must have battery power as the primary or secondary
power supply. They cannot be solely electric powered.
OSFM advises consumers that if their CO alarms were manufactured
before August 2009 (prior to the incorporation of the new
requirements), they may not have the end-of-life feature. In
addition, residents who have a carbon monoxide alarm installed for
more than three years should replace them immediately.
Carbon monoxide alarms should be tested every month by pushing
the test button.
If the alarm goes off, follow the
If your CO alarm
activates, evacuate everyone from your home immediately, leaving
the door open for ventilation on your way out.
Call 911 only
after leaving the dwelling.
Do not re-enter until experts have
investigated the problem and declared it safe to return
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Other important safety tips related
to CO poisoning:
household appliances are installed and running correctly. Have a
professional technician check fuel-burning appliances, furnaces,
chimneys and vents at least annually for blockages, corrosion,
debris and faulty connections.
in the home that use natural gas, oil, wood and kerosene, such
as water heaters, clothes dryers, ranges, ovens, gas-powered
refrigerators and pilot lights.
unvented fuel-burning appliances in a room with closed doors or
windows, or in rooms where people are sleeping.
systems on the outside for cracks and blockages such as in
flues, chimneys and fireplaces.
Make sure space
heaters are vented properly.
charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent.
gasoline-powered tools or engines indoors.
gas-powered appliances such as an oven or clothes dryer for
heating a home.
Never leave a car
running in an attached garage, even if the garage door is open.
For additional information about carbon monoxide poisoning, visit
the OSFM website at
www.sfm.illinois.gov or the National Fire Protection Association
website at www.nfpa.org.
Office of the State Fire
received from the
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]