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***A True Story***

Thanksgiving Holiday "1998", I went to care for my elderly grandmother. She lives with my Mother who cares for her day and night. My grandmother now has Alzheimers, and has to be cared for all the time. My mother wanted to go to visit my younger sister in Nebraska for the holiday. While there I started getting headaches everyday. Also my 12 year old daughter kept saying she had headaches too. Well we had been there for several days and I then started to feel tired all the time. I just thought it was from having to care for my grandmother everyday and night. It was now Sunday after Thanksgiving, and being really tired of being cooped up in the house. I decided to take Gran and Ashley over to my other sister's house for a visit. We had stayed about 4 hours and it was getting late so I packed Gran in the car and headed home. When we got home I went to open the door so Ashley could help Gran in. As I open the door I was met with the strongest odor of Carbon Monoxide, I have ever smelled before.(normally carbon monoxide is odorless and you do not smell anything) My eyes started burning right away, along with my throat.

I called the gas company to come and check it out. He came out and checked out the furnace and stated that it was not closed in properly. Someone had removed a board that kept the fumes from coming off the back heating elements and returning threw the vents. My Parents had just moved into this house a month before, And my dad being from Minnesota he keeps the furnace set at about 65 deg. So the heater had not been running during this time. So I called my Bother-in-Law to come replace the board. But the fumes kept coming out of the vents. The meter that the gas man was using was going from 0 to 45 in 15 sec. The 0 being the outside air and 45 being in the house. Anytime the meter moves more than 20 points it will go off to alarm of a problem. Well as you can see we had a big problem. The 45 points = to a concentration of 400 or 500 (and that is why I could smell the carbon monoxide) So he had to turn the furnace off. He then told us it was unsafe to stay in the house.

The purpose of my story is to let you know how easy it is to be over come with Carbon Monoxcide poisoning. We were very lucky that night. Normally I would have just shut the door and gone to bed. I did not realize the gas was there because the doors had been open because the weather had been so nice. I had turned up the heat that one night because the weather had turn colder. If I had done the same thing as all the night before and stayed home and then gone off to bed. I would not be here to warn you of the dangers. My Grandmother, daughter and myself would have died that night of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
I'm happy to say that the house now has a Carbon Monoxide Detector installed
Being a firefighter I was always carfull to have working fire alarms, but until this night I had not been fully aware of the dangers of the carbon monoxide hazards. I had knowledge of it but was not as aware as I sould have been. I hope that you read the information below. This information just Might Save Your Life, and Life's of your family. If you read it use it!!!!


Recently, public attention has focused on the risk of carbon monoxide (or CO) poisoning in the home. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) prepared this fact sheet to help people protect themselves and their families against CO poisoning.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fossil fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, propane, oil and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment are possible sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles running in an attached garage could also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

However, consumers can protect themselves against CO poisoning by maintaining, using, and venting heating and cooking equipment and by being cautious when using vehicles in attached garages.

CO replaces oxygen in the bloodstream, eventually causing suffocation. Mild CO poisoning feels like the flu, but more serious poisoning leads to difficulty breathing and even death.

Just how sick people get from CO exposure varies greatly from person to person, depending on age, overall health, the concentration of the exposure (measured in parts per million), and the length of exposure. Higher concentrations are dangerous even for a short time.

Table 1 shows typical symptoms based on concentration and time of exposure.

When carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in the blood, a condition known as carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) saturation results. Carboxyhemoglobin levels do not consider the length of exposure. As more and more carbon monoxide accumulates in the blood, the percentage of COHb gets higher and higher and people get sicker and sicker. Table 2 links symptoms of CO poisoning with percent of carboxyhemoglobin saturation.

Table 1- Symptoms Based on Concentration and Time of Exposure


Effects Over Time
35 No adverse effects within 8 hours
200 Mild headache after 2-3 hours of exposure
400 Headache, Nausea after 1 hour
800 Headache, Nausea & dizziness after 45 min; collapse after 2 hours
1000 Loss of consciousness after 1 hour
1600 Headache, Nausea & dizziness after 20 min; unconsciousness after 30 min
3200 Headache, Nausea & dizziness after 5-10 min; unconsciousness after 30 min
12,800 Immediate physiological effects; unconsciousness and danger of death after 1-3 min

Table 2 - Effects of Carboxyhemoglobin (COHB) Saturation
COHB Saturation (%)


0 - 10

10 - 20 Tension in forehead, dilation of skin vessels
20 - 30 Headache and pulsating temples
30 - 40 Severe headache, weariness, dizziness, weakened sight, nausea, vomiting, prostration
40 - 50 Same as above, plus increased breathing and pulse rates, asphyxiation
50 - 60 Same as above, plus coma, convulsions, Cheyne-Stokes respiration
60 - 70 Coma, convulsions, weak respiration and pulse. Death is possible
70 - 80 Slowing and stopping of breathing, death within hours
80 - 90 Death in less than 1 hour
90 - 100 Death within a few minutes


What is your risk of CO poisoning?

Deaths from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning about 700 in 1993, according to the National Safety Council are fairly rare. Three of every five of these deaths typically involve vehicles, one of every five typically involves heating or cooking equipment, and the other one of every five typically involves other or unspecified causes.

In fact, deaths from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning have dropped sharply in recent years, thanks to lower CO emissions from automobiles and safer heating and cooking appliances. Deaths from "smoke inhalation" (largely carbon monoxide) in fires and suicides involving CO are far more common causes of gas-related suffocation deaths in home. Published estimates on the role of CO in home fire deaths vary widely.

According to the NFPA, there were 242 CO-related non-fire deaths attributed to heating and cooking equipment in 1991. The leading specific types of equipment were:

Gas-fueled space heaters (69 deaths) Gas-fueled furnaces (52 deaths) Charcoal grills (36 deaths) Gas-fueled ranges (23 deaths) Portable kerosene heaters (23 deaths) Wood stoves (13 deaths)

As with fire deaths, the risk of unintentional CO death is highest for the very young (ages 4 or under) and the very old (ages 75 or above).

How can you protect yourself from CO poisoning?

The best defenses against CO poisoning are safe use of vehicles (particularly in attached garages) and proper installation, use and maintenance of household cooking and heating equipment.

You may also want to install CO detectors inside your home to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide. However, a CO detector is no substitute for safe use and maintenance of heating and cooking equipment.

Safety Tips: *

If you need to warm up a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting the ignition.Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. CO from a running vehicle inside an attached garage can get inside the house, even with the garage door open. Normal circulation does not provide enough fresh air to reliably prevent dangerous accumulations inside. Have your vehicle inspected for exhaust leaks, if you have any symptoms of CO poisoning. Have fuel burning household heating equipment (fireplaces, furnaces, water heaters, wood stoves, and space or portable heaters) checked every year before cold weather sets in. All chimneys and chimney connectors should be evaluated for proper installation, cracks, blockages or leaks. Make needed repairs before using the equipment. Before enclosing central heating equipment in a smaller room, check with your fuel supplier to ensure that air for proper combustion is provided. When using a fireplace, open the flue for adequate ventilation. Kerosene heaters are illegal in many states. Always check with local authorities before buying or using one. Open a window slightly whenever using a kerosene heater. Refuel outside, after the device has cooled. Always use barbecue grills which can produce carbon monoxide outside. Never use them in the home or garage. When purchasing new heating and cooking equipment, select factory built products approved by an independent testing laboratory. Do not accept damaged equipment. Hire a qualified technician (usually employed by the local oil or gas company) to install the equipment. Ask about and insist that the technician follow applicable fire safety and local building codes. If you purchase an existing home have a qualified technician evaluate the integrity of the heating and cooking systems, as well as the sealed spaces between the garage and house. When camping, remember to use battery powered heaters and flashlights in tents, trailers and motor homes. Using fossil fuels inside these structures is extremely dangerous. NFPA 501, Standard on Recreational Vehicles, requires the installation of CO detector in recreational vehicles.

What are CO detectors?

Household carbon monoxide detectors measure how much CO has accumulated. Currently, CO detectors sound an alarm when the concentration of CO in the air corresponds to 10% carboxyhemoglobin level in the blood. Since 10% COHb is at the very low end of CO poisoning, the alarm may sound before people feel particularly sick.

What causes CO detector nuisance alarms?

Pollution and atmospheric conditions in some areas cause low levels of CO to be present for long periods of time. In fact, these "background" conditions may increase the COHb level to over 10%, causing CO detectors to alarm even though conditions inside the home are not truly hazardous. Treat all CO detector alarms as real, until it has been verified that there is no threat from equipment inside the dwelling.

If you buy CO detectors:

Select detector(s) listed by a qualified, independent testing laboratory. Follow manufacturer's recommendations for placement in your home. Call your local fire department non-emergency telephone number. Tell the operator that you have purchased a CO detector and ask what number to call if the CO detector alarms. Be sure you understand whom to call if your detector alarms, and clearly post that number by your telephone(s). Make sure everyone in the household knows the difference between the fire emergency and CO emergency numbers (if there is a difference). Test CO detectors at least once a month, following the manufacturer's instructions. Replace CO detectors according to the manufacturer' s instructions, usually about every two years. Battery powered CO detectors may have unique battery packs designed to last approximately two years, compared to batteries used in smoke detectors, which require yearly replacement.

What to do if your CO detector alarms:

If anyone shows signs of CO poisoning: Have everyone leave the building right away. Leave doors open as you go.

Use a neighbor's telephone to report the CO alarm, following the instructions you received from the fire department when you bought the detector. Get immediate medical attention.

If no one has symptoms of CO poisoning: Open windows and doors, shut down heating and cooking equipment, and call a qualified technician to inspect all equipment.

Be on the lookout for any symptoms of CO poisoning. Follow the steps above if symptoms appear.

Safety Checklist:

Carbon monoxide detectors, are not substitutes for smoke detectors. Smoke detectors react to fire by products, before CO detectors would alarm. Smoke detectors give earlier warning of a fire, providing more time to escape. To guard against smoke and fire, be sure that your home has working smoke detectors on every level and just outside of all sleeping areas. Know the difference between the sound of the smoke detectors and the sound of the carbon monoxide detector. Have a home evacuation plan for any home emergency and practice the plan with all members of the household.

Why should I be concerned about carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is especially dangerous due to its physical characteristics and effect on the body. It is often referred to as the "silent killer." There are many potential sources and conditions that may produce carbon monoxide. All are related to the incomplete combustion of fossil fuel. In any enclosed space (home, recreational vehicle, boat, etc.) even a small accumulation of carbon monoxide can be dangerous.

What makes carbon monoxide so dangerous?

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colourless and tasteless gas that is very toxic. When carbon monoxide is inhaled, it produces an effect known as chemical asphyxiation. Injury occurs when carbon monoxide combines with hemoglobin in the blood, lowering the blood's oxygen-carrying capacity. Even at very low parts-per-million levels, the body is quickly affected by oxygen starvation. Exposure during sleep is particularly dangerous.

What is the source of carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete burning of fuels such as natural gas, propane, heating oil, kerosene, coal, charcoal, gasoline or wood. This problem can occur in any device that depends on burning for heat or energy. For example, furnaces, boilers, room heaters, water heaters, stoves, grills and any gasoline engine (e.g. autos, lawnmowers, snow blowers) are included on this list.

What are some common sources of carbon monoxide in my home?

The most common causes of carbon monoxide accumulation in homes include: a blocked or poorly ventilated fireplace chimney or furnace flue, faulty or damaged heating equipment (especially cracked furnace heat exchangers), malfunctioning space heaters, and automobile or lawn mower exhaust in unventilated garages.

Is natural gas more likely to be a source of dangerous carbon monoxide than other fuels?

No. When properly installed and maintained, your natural gas furnace and water heater do not pollute the air with carbon monoxide. Natural gas is known as a "clean burning" fuel because under correct operating conditions, it gives off water vapor and carbon dioxide, which are not toxic. (Carbon dioxide is also present in the air we exhale and is necessary for plant life.) These byproducts are released from furnaces and water heaters to the outside through a vent or chimney.

How can I protect myself from carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is produced from improper combustion or defective equipment, so it is very important to have your appliances inspected and adjusted by a qualified heating or service contractor at least once a year. In addition, autos or other gasoline burning engines should not be operated in unventilated garages or near areas where air may enter a home or building.

How can I detect the presence of carbon monoxide?

Because carbon monoxide is odorless, colourless and tasteless, humans cannot detect the presence of carbon monoxide. Today, carbon monoxide detection devices are available that continuously monitor your home's air. If the carbon monoxide concentration ever nears a harmful level, an alarm will sound so that you can safely leave your home and request assistance in determining the source of carbon monoxide.

Will one carbon monoxide detector be sufficient for my house?

Because carbon monoxide gas moves freely in the air, we suggest you place the detector in or as near as possible to the sleeping areas of your home. You are most vulnerable to the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning during sleeping hours. The number of detectors you need depends on the size and shape of your home and your living habits. Very large or multi-level dwellings sometimes require several detectors to provide adequate protection.

How does a detector work?

Detectors are available that either operate on battery power or plug into a standard 120V electrical outlet. Depending on the technology used, the presence of carbon monoxide is sensed through a chemical sensor device or electronic air sampling. In either case, when harmful levels of carbon monoxide are detected, an alarm is sounded that is designed to wake even sleeping family members.

How reliable are carbon monoxide detectors, and what should I look for when purchasing one?

At the urging of the Consumer Products Safety Commission in 1992, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) created a U.S. standard for carbon monoxide sensors for residential use. The standard UL 2034 specifies minimum sensitivity, alarm times and reliability. Consumers should look for the UL approval when purchasing a carbon monoxide detector. In addition, several carbon monoxide detectors have received certification from American Gas Association laboratories (AGA).


Smoke Detectors

Test Your Detectors!

After prevention, smoke detectors are your first line of defense against fire and can cut the risk of dying in a home fire nearly in half.

In recent years, roughly three fifths of home fire deaths have occurred in homes without smoke detectors. In 1994, a total of 3,425 people died in home fires.

More than half of all fatal home fires happen at night.

Inexpensive household smoke detectors can mean the difference between life and death. They sound an early warning in the event of fire, waking people before they are overcome by smoke and poisonous gases and giving them time to escape.

But a smoke detector can't save your life if it isn't working. In 1997, National Fire Prevention Week is devoted to educating the public about reacting fast to a fire and knowing when to go. Increase your odds of escaping a fire by following these simple steps in maintaining you smoke detectors.

Once a month: Check the operating status of every smoke detector in the home.

Once a year: Replace all detector batteries. NFPA suggests changing all detector batteries on the Sunday in October when you change your clocks back from Daylight Saving Time. Here is an easy reminder: Change your clocks; change your batteries.

Smoke Detectors Facts and Statistics

According to a 1995 study by the National Fire Protection Association:

As of 1994, 93 percent of U.S. homes had at least one smoke detector installed.

Nearly half of the home fires occurred in homes with no smoke detectors.

Roughly three-fifths of all home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes without smoke detectors.

Approximately one-fifth of all homes have some detectors that do not work properly.

The primary reason for detector failure is dead, disconnected, or missing batteries.

Some reasons for dead, disconnected, or missing detector batteries include: a lack of routine power testing and battery replacement; disabling detectors to prevent nuisance alarms; borrowing batteries for other purposes; and disconnecting batteries without replacing them in response to a detector's low-power warning alerts.

Smoke detectors can also fail to perform properly because of age or excessive dirt.

NFPA RecommendsMonthly check-up

Test your smoke detectors once a month, following the manufacturer's instructions, and replace any battery too weak to sound the alarm.

Heed the warning

Most battery-powered detectors "chirp" to alert you when their battery power is low. When you hear the warning, replace the batteries; don't just disconnect them.

Time for a change

Replace smoke detector batteries routinely on the same day each year. NFPA suggests the last Sunday in October-the day you roll the clocks back from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time each fall. Change your clocks; change your batteries.

Don't borrow trouble

Too often people disable smoke detectors by removing their batteries for other uses. Never "borrow" batteries from a smoke detector.


Dealing with false alarms

Many smoke detectors are not recommended for use in kitchens, bathrooms, or garages where cooking fumes, steam, or exhaust fumes can set off the alarm when there is no fire. Yet many people simply disconnect smoke detector batteries in an effort to prevent these nuisance alarms. If your home is plagued by false alarms, don't disable your detector-relocate it away from the kitchen or bathroom, or install an exhaust fan. Cleaning your detector regularly, according to the manufacturer's instructions, may also help. If nuisance alarms persist, replace the detector.

Clean your smoke detectors

Clean your detectors regularly, according to your smoke detectors, according to the manufacturer's instructions. And never paint any part of a smoke detector.

Replace detectors every 10 years

Home smoke detectors have a life expectancy of about 10 years. Replace any detector that is more than 10 years old.

Where To Install Smoke Detectors

NFPA recommends that every home have a smoke detector outside each sleeping area (inside as well if members of the household sleep with the door closed) and on every level of the home, including the basement. The National Fire Alarm Code, developed by NFPA, requires a smoke detector inside each sleeping area for new construction. On floors without bedrooms, detectors should be installed in or near living areas, such as dens, living rooms, or family rooms.

For extra protection, NFPA suggests installing detectors in dining rooms, furnace rooms, utility rooms, and hallways. Smoke detectors are not recommended for kitchens, bathrooms, or garages-where cooking fumes, steam, or exhaust fumes could set off false alarms-or for attics and other unheated spaces where humidity and temperature changes might affect a detector's operation.

In stairways with no doors at the top or bottom, position smoke detectors anywhere in the path of smoke moving up the stairs. But always position smoke detectors at the bottom of closed stairways, such as those leading from the basement, because dead air trapped near the door at the top of a stairway could prevent smoke from reaching a detector located at the top.

Mount detectors high on a wall or on the ceiling. Wall-mounted units should be installed so that the top of the detector is 4 to 12 inches (10 to 30 centimeters) from the ceiling. A ceiling-mounted detector should be attached at least 4 inches (10 to 30 centimeters) from the nearest wall. In a room with a pitched ceiling, mount the detector at or near the ceiling's highest point. In unfurnished rooms, such as basements, detectors should be mounted on the bottom of the joists. Don't install a smoke detector too near a window, door, or forced-air register where drafts could interfere with the detector's operation.

Does Your home have a home layout and fire plan!!!!
When you have company spend the night do you go threw the fire plan with them and let them know the points of exits?
Your family should have a fire plan, and go threw the plan every three months.
Have you practiced your fire plan?

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