What You Should Know About Carbon Monoxide
What is carbon monoxide and why is it so dangerous?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless and poisonous gas that
results when natural gas and other fuels burn without sufficient oxygen.
Carbon monoxide is an asphyxiate and prevents needed oxygen from
traveling throughout the body. Carbon monoxide combines more readily
with hemoglobin (blood) than oxygen, thus disrupting oxygen transport.
Carbon monoxide levels in the blood vary with carbon monoxide exposure
levels, length of exposure and physiological factors. Elevated levels of
carbon monoxide can cause illness and even death. The elderly and
persons with cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases are particularly
sensitive to elevated levels of carbon monoxide.
Signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea,
headaches, and fatigue: these symptoms are often mistaken for the flu.
Persons exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide need fresh air
immediately and should be removed from the hazardous environment. If you
suspect elevated levels of carbon monoxide are in your home and you feel
ill, you should go to a neighbor’s house and call 911. The fire
department will test for levels of elevated carbon monoxide in your home
to determine if it is safe to re-enter.
How can I determine if there are elevated levels of carbon
monoxide in my home?
The most effective way of determining whether there are elevated levels
of carbon monoxide in your home is to purchase and install carbon
monoxide detectors. There are two basic types of carbon monoxide
detectors, plug-in or AC units, and battery operated units. Both alert
you to the presence of carbon monoxide.
Plug-in units operate by heating a metal-oxide sensor, which reacts with
carbon monoxide. When this type of unit detects carbon monoxide, the
alarm sounds, but resets a few minutes after gas dissipates. Plug-in
units can plug directly in a wall socket or utilize a power cord. If the
unit has a power cord, it should be placed high on a wall, as close to
the ceiling as possible.
The battery-operated unit has a disk that darkens from prolonged
exposure to carbon monoxide, air pollution, high humidity and household
vapors. The infrared sensor in the unit senses the change in the color
and sounds the alarm. It is important to remember that the battery and
sensor units need to be replaced every two years. Carbon monoxide
detectors can be purchased at general retail and hardware stores. If you
have additional concerns about a particular brand, you can call the
Where should I install a carbon monoxide detector?
Carbon monoxide detectors should be placed in a hallway between bedrooms
and the rest of the house. Additional detectors can be placed near every
sleeping and living area. DO NOT place the carbon monoxide detectors in
a room with a furnace! DO NOT place the detector in the kitchen or
How can I prevent carbon monoxide buildup in my home in the
Effective ways to prevent a build-up of carbon monoxide in your home are
to have a qualified contractor perform an inspection of your chimney,
regularly check your appliances and perform routine maintenance, keep
your home well-ventilated, never idle your car in the garage with the
door down and finally install a carbon monoxide detector in your home.
Activities that contribute to elevated levels of carbon monoxide in the
home should always by avoided. These include: using a gas or charcoal
grill in the garage, warming up the car while still in the garage (even
with the overhead door open), not frequently checking the clothes dryer
vent for buildup of lint, not venting space heaters properly and not
checking it see if the chimney flue is open before starting a fire.
Mesothelioma - an Asbestos-Related Cancer
Firefighters are at risk of asbestos exposure because of its frequent
use in older structures and its ability to linger in the air even after
a fire has been extinguished, but anyone can have been exposed to
asbestos. More information on Mesothelioma.
Every 66 seconds a fire department responds to a residential fire
somewhere in the United States. Most of these fires occur at night while
the entire family is sleeping. Each year residential fires account for
one death every 118 minutes and one serious injury every 18 minutes. In
Illinois, children under the age of five account for 20% of all
residential fire deaths. Will your family be the next statistic?
According to the Fire Chief, “Hazards which are the cause of
many residential fires can be eliminated through a simple process known
as a Home Fire Safety Inspection.”
The Carpentersville Fire Department offers free Home Fire Safety
Inspections for owners or occupants of any residential home or apartment
During a Home Fire Safety Inspection, a member of the Fire Department
will walk through your home specifically looking for fire hazards. Once
a fire hazard has been discovered, the inspector will explain the
potential for fire and suggest ways to correct. The inspector will also
suggest locations for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, discuss the
types and uses of fire extinguishers, and help your family develop a
workable home fire escape plan.
According to the Fire Chief, “This program is without citations, fines
or enforcement of any kind”. This is purely a public education program
provided for residents of Carpentersville.
As an incentive, the Carpentersville Fire Department offers free help in
installing detectors for those residents unable to do so themselves. For
more information, contact the Fire Department at 847-426-2131.
When to Call 911
- Only call 911 when you have a police/fire/medical emergency.
- Provide the dispatcher the address you need help at.
- Advise the dispatcher what you need, such as the fire department
- Give your name and the phone number you are calling from.
What To Do?
Before The Ambulance Arrives
After you call 911, there are several things you can do until
Emergency Responders arrive. These simple procedures will greatly
aid the Emergency Responders and the patient they will treat.
- If you determine that the patient is pulseless and
non-breathing, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), but only
if you have been trained in this life saving technique.
- Stay calm: do not get excited. This will reassure the patient
that help is on the way.
- Make the patient as comfortable as possible.
- Control whatever bleeding the you can (if the patient is
- Gather all the medication that the patient may be taking. This
will help Emergency Responders better determine the medical history
of the patient.
- Move all furniture or obstacles out of the way so Emergency
Responders have easy access to the patient. Make sure all pets are
- Remember the time, this is very important. When was the last
time you talked to the patient? How long has the medical condition
existed? How long has the person been unconscious?
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