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Posted on: February 19, 2020

What is Carbon Monoxide & How Can a Detector Save Your Life?

A recent poll of our residents on Nextdoor showed that 86% of respondents are already using a carbon monoxide detector in their home, 9% are not using a carbon monoxide detector, and the remaining percentage are unsure if their home is equipped with carbon monoxide detectors.

Besides being required by law, carbon monoxide detectors are a simple and inexpensive way to prevent a potentially fatal poisoning episode in the home.  A carbon monoxide detector detects carbon monoxide in your home and warns you that carbon monoxide is present, giving you time to get out and call 911 for help.  

What is carbon monoxide? 

Carbon Monoxide, also known as CO, is called the “invisible killer” because it’s a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. More than 150 people in the United States die every year from accidental non-fire related CO poisoning associated with consumer products, including generators. Other products that can contribute to CO in the home include faulty, improperly used or incorrectly vented fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters, and fireplaces.  

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Because CO is odorless, colorless, and otherwise undetectable, people may not know that they are being exposed. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without fever). They include: 

  • Headache  
  • Fatigue 
  • Shortness of breath  
  • Nausea 
  • Dizziness

High-level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including:

  • Mental confusion 
  • Vomiting 
  • Loss of muscular coordination 
  • Loss of consciousness 
  • And, tragically, death

If you do not have a carbon monoxide detector, we strongly urge you to get one for your home. Feel free to share your tips or ask questions below.  Additionally, if you have any questions about carbon monoxide detectors and how and where to properly install them in your home, our Community Risk Reduction staff would be happy to answer any questions.  You can give them a call at (831) 685-6698, or stop by and see them in person at 6934 Soquel Drive in Aptos. 

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