Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is an odorless and tasteless gas that can be given off during the burning of fuel.
Sources of this deadly gas in the home include furnaces, gas stoves and ovens, kerosene heaters, generators, vehicles and any other items that burn fuel. When these items malfunction or are used inappropriately, such as without adequate ventilation, they become dangerous.
Malfunctioning home furnaces cause up to 18.5% of all accidental poisonings by carbon monoxide in the United States.
Who is at Risk?
Anyone is susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning, although studies have shown that children are more susceptible to low levels of exposure.
If you have an unexplained headache, fatigue, dizziness or nausea, or if your carbon monoxide detector is going off, immediately evacuate your home and contact the fire department. Low-level carbon monoxide poisoning is often confused with cold and flu symptoms.
Carbon monoxide starves the body of oxygen and can cause death in people of any age. For children, small doses of carbon monoxide over extended periods can also cause long-lasting health and developmental problems.
The best protection is to have fuel burning appliances inspected annually and to install a carbon monoxide detector on each level of the home.
The Healthy Homes Coalition works with families with children to connect them with resources that can help provide a carbon monoxide detector for their home free of charge. Resources to provide these free CO detectors are often limited. Eligible families must have a resident child 14 years of age or younger and must live in the cities of Grand Rapids, Wyoming, or Kentwood Michigan. To see about getting a free detector for your home, contact the Healthy Homes Coalition.