Carbon monoxide, or CO, can form when fuels like charcoal, coal, gasoline, kerosene, natural gas, oil, propane and wood are burned without a sufficient supply of air. It is known as the silent killer due to it’s odorless, colorless, tasteless, non-irritating properties. Sources of CO include appliances, portable generators, tools and equipment, vehicles and boats.
Breathing in CO can cause accidental poisoning or suffocation resulting in loss of consciousness, brain damage or death. As CO is breathed in, it prevents the body from receiving the vital oxygen it needs. Initial symptoms of CO poisoning mimic the flu and can vary depending on the air concentration of CO and duration the CO is breathed in. Warning signs include: headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness and disorientation, muscle weakness or fatigue, shortness of breath, sleepiness, chest tightness, redness of the skin and confusion. A CO problem should be suspect if you experience the following:
- Flu-like symptoms are not accompanied by fever
- Symptoms occur or get worse following the use of a fuel-burning device
- More than one person in the home becomes ill at the same time
- The symptoms disappear after leaving the house or area
If you suspect a CO problem, it is important to leave the area and get fresh air immediately. After leaving the area, quickly contact Jackson Energy Authority at 731-422-7500 to report your CO problem.
To increase awareness of carbon monoxide in your home, install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home. Placing the detector close to sleeping areas will help wake you from sleep if it alarms. Periodically check the battery in your detector and replace it when needed. Additionally, you can help prevent CO in the home with the following actions:
- Schedule annual maintenance checks by qualified technicians for your heating system, gas water heater, gas appliances and any other gas, oil or coal-burning appliances
- Make sure all gas appliances are vented properly
- Have your fireplace and chimney checked annual
- Never use a gas oven or range for warmth
- Never use fuel-powered equipment or tools in an enclosed area
- Never use portable generators indoors
- Never use charcoal grills, gas grills or portable gas camp stoves indoors
- Never run vehicles inside a garage or structure, even with the door open
- Never hang out around exhaust outlets on boats, vehicles, generators, etc.