WHAT TO DO IF AN
NEVER IGNORE THE SOUND of an alarm.
If the smoke or carbon monoxide alarm is
sounding its alarm, there is a reason. Here
are several steps your family can learn and
rehearse for an emergency.
1. Have an escape plan and practice it. Know
two exits from every room in the house.
2. Feel if the door is hot. If the doorknob or
door is hot, use an alternate exit to escape.
3. Crawl on the floor—smoke and heat rise.
4. Meet at a prearranged spot outside
5. Call the fire department from a
6. Never go inside a burning building. Never
return inside the house for any reason.
gas or coal) burn. Because you can’t see, taste or smell it, carbon monoxide
can kill you before you know it’s there. Exposure to lower levels over time
can make you sick.
CO can be produced by the combustion that occurs from fossil-fuel-burning appliances such as a furnace, clothes dryer, range, oven, water heater
or space heater. When appliances and vents work properly and there is enough
fresh air in your home to allow complete combustion, the trace amounts of
CO produced are typically not dangerous. And normally, CO is safely vented
outside your home.
Problems may arise when something goes wrong. An appliance can
malfunction, a furnace heat exchanger can crack, vents can clog or debris
may block a chimney or flue. Fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, gas heaters,
charcoal grills and gas logs can produce unsafe levels of CO if they are
unvented or not properly vented. Exhaust can seep into a home from vehicles
left running in an attached garage.
Why is carbon monoxide so dangerous?
CO robs you of what you need most: oxygen. This brings flu-like symptoms,
such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizzy spells, confusion and irritability.
Because these symptoms are similar to those caused by flu, carbon monoxide poisoning can be misdiagnosed. As the problem worsens, victims suffer
vomiting, loss of consciousness and eventually brain damage or death.
Early warning is important: Install one or more alarms. The Consumer
Product Safety Commission recommends that every home have at least
one carbon monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal installed near
the sleeping area. Choose a CO alarm that is tested and listed by a nationally accredited lab such as ETL (ETL Testing Laboratories) or UL (
Have your appliances checked regularly. Have a qualified appliance
technician check all fossil-fuel-burning appliances and venting and chimney
systems at least once a year, or as recommended by the manufacturers.
CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM
You may not experience symptoms of CO
poisoning when the alarm sounds. The alarm
is designed to go off before you may feel sick,
so you have time to react and take action.
1. Press the mute button to temporarily quiet
2. Call 911 or the fire department.
3. Immediately move everyone to a source
of fresh air.
4. Leave the CO alarm where it is.
5. Do not reenter your home until the emergency responder has arrived, your home
is aired out and your CO alarm returns to
normal operation. A
Place a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm in every bedroom
and at least one on every level of the house. Have a fire extinguisher
on every level of the house as well as in the kitchen and garage.