Tips to Protect from Carbon Monoxide, Fire Hazards

An estimated annual average of 378,700 fires, 2,740 deaths, 13,090 injuries and $5.6 billion in property losses associated with residential fires were reported by fire departments from 2003 through 2005, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that consumers cannot see or smell. There was an annual average of 171 unintentional non-fire CO poisoning deaths associated with consumer products from 2003 through 2005.

CPSC recommends consumers replace the batteries in their smoke and CO alarms annually and test the alarms monthly. Smoke alarms should be on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. CO alarms should be installed on each level of the home and outside sleeping areas. CO alarms should not be installed in attics or basements unless they include a sleeping area. Combination smoke and CO alarms are available to consumers.

CPSC recommends consumers follow these safety tips:

  • Never leave cooking equipment unattended.
  • Have a professional inspect home heating, cooling, and water appliances annually.
  • Use caution with candles, lighters, matches, and smoking materials near upholstered furniture, mattresses, and bedding. Keep matches and lighters out of reach of young children.
  • Have a fire escape plan and practice it so family members know what to do and where to meet if there’s a fire in the home. Children and the elderly may sleep through or not react to the sound of the smoke alarm, so parents and caregivers should adjust their fire escape plan to help them escape the house in the event of a fire.
  • Never ignore an alarming CO alarm. It is warning you of a potentially deadly hazard. If the alarm signal sounds do not try to find the source of the CO. Immediately move outside to fresh air. Call your emergency services, fire department, or 911.
  • Never use a portable generator indoors – including garages, basements, crawlspaces, and sheds. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO buildup in the home.
  • During use, keep portable generators outdoors and far away from open doors, windows and vents, which can allow CO to build up indoors.
  • If you start to feel sick, dizzy or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air right away. The CO from generators can readily lead to full incapacitation and death.
  • Never use charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal in an enclosed space can produce lethal levels of carbon monoxide.

For more information, visit www.FireSafety.gov.

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