California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
Amador-El Dorado Unit
CONTACT: Teri Mizuhara, Fire Prevention Specialist II, 530.708.2724
RELEASE DATE: October 4, 2011
Carbon Monoxide=Silent Killer
Camino - "Carbon Monoxide, aka CO, is widely known as the Silent Killer because you can not see it, taste it, or smell it. Annually over 400 people die and
another 20,000 are hospitalized due to CO poisoning. So what exactly is carbon monoxide? CO is the result of combustion (burning) of a fuel such as wood burning fireplaces, gas
furnace, gas water heaters, gas stoves and ovens, portable generators, barbeque grills and even your running car or truck" says CAL FIRE Unit Chief Kelly Keenan of the
Amador-El Dorado Unit. The fumes from the combustion contain CO gas and when a person breaths this gas in they are subject to CO poisoning.
Chief Keenan adds "if you are exposed to high levels of CO, you may feel flu-like symptoms such as a headache, nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness/light
headedness because the CO replaces the oxygen in the red blood cell and won't allow oxygen to reach your organs. A persons red blood cells actually bond with CO easier than it
bonds with oxygen. High levels of CO can kill a person in minutes and it is the number one cause of unintentional death by poison in the US. If you suspect CO poisoning, get the
person or persons to fresh air immediately, then call 911. In some cases CO poisoning can cause permanent brain and heart damage."
As of July 1st of this year, carbon monoxide alarms in single family dwellings are required by State Law. Minimally, you should have CO alarms outside each
sleeping area and on each level of your home including the basement. If you can afford it, put a CO alarm in each sleeping area (bedroom). Check the batteries monthly and change
the battery twice a year (Spring Forward/Fall Back). If they are plug-ins, test them once a month and if they have a battery backup, change that battery twice a year. Don't forget
to vacuum the alarms often to keep them in proper working order.
||Never use a barbeque or outdoor space heater in your home or garage.
||Do not leave your vehicle running in your garage, even for a few minutes.
||Never heat your room or home with your kitchen oven.
||Have your home heating system checked by a professional annually.
||Have your wood burning stove or fire place professionally cleaned annually.
"If your CO alarm sounds: Get everyone out of the house and call 911. If you can't physically leave the house, move to an open doorway or open
a window and stay there. Call 911. Do not close the window or door. NEVER reenter the structure until the fire department has said it is okay, that is our job and
we are more than happy to do it" says Chief Keenan.
For more information visit the Center for Disease Controls website at http://www.cdc.gov/co.