Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as the silent killer because you can’t smell, hear or see it. CO naturally occurs anytime fuel is burned, but it can turn deadly when the fuel burns incompletely or isn’t vented properly. Call Xcel Energy at 1-800-895-2999 or 9-1-1 in an emergency suspected to be Carbon Monoxide related.
In the home, CO can be formed, for example, by open flames, space heaters, standby generators, water heaters, blocked chimneys or vents, running a car or other motor inside a garage or a similar enclosed space.
To help prevent CO poisoning, hire a qualified contractor annually to inspect your home’s fuel burning appliances and venting systems for proper ventilation. Performing routine maintenance is advised, especially prior to the beginning of each year’s heating season.
A CO detector is a device that detects the presence of the carbon monoxide and sounds an alarm when CO levels develop. Because CO is colorless, odorless and tasteless, its presence is rarely, if ever, noticed and that makes a CO detector a valuable warning device.
CO detectors should be centrally located and placed near each separate sleeping area. Placing them in the immediate vicinity of bedrooms helps prevent being overcome by poisoning while sleeping.
Purchase CO detectors that have battery backup and memory. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for installation, and replace the detectors’ batteries regularly. When batteries are low, the detector will beep or go off, but never assume the alarm is indicating a low battery. Always check the source of the alarm.
Also, learn to recognize the symptoms of CO poisoning and respond accordingly. If you or others in your family – including pets – all exhibit flu-like symptoms but feel better in fresh air, it could mean you have a CO problem. Other symptoms may vary from person to person depending on age and current health, and can range from headache, nausea and ringing in ears to lethargy or losing consciousness, as well as eye and skin irritation. If you experience these symptoms consistently, immediately seek medical help.
View the Public Safety Guide (PDF)
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