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Carbon Monoxide
Mar 01, 2010


Carbon Monoxide

Every year, families lose loved ones to a silent killer.  They weren't aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that robs the body of oxygen needed to survive.  Physical symptoms of CO poisoning include; headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, watery eyes, disorientation and convulsions.  In extreme cases it can be fatal.

While natural gas is one of the safest energy sources around, carbon monoxide may be present if natural gas does not burn completely due to improperly adjusted burners or recalculation of flue products.  The best way to protect yourself and your family from the threat of carbon monoxide is with an annual inspection of flues, chimneys and fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces and water heaters.  Carbon monoxide detectors can provide additional peace of mind. 

Detecting CO
CO is an odorless and colorless gas, so it's not always easy to detect.   Aside from the physical symptoms, there are also signs to look for in your home. 

Backdraft from a fireplace, furnace or water heater are signs of trouble and can result in CO.  If the flame on a natural gas appliance is yellow and creating soot, it's a sign that the fuel isn't burning completely.  Other signs of danger include; high humidity, condensation on cold surfaces such as windows, soot from a fireplace or heating system or a lingering pungent smell.

Trouble can start when:


  • The flame on a natural gas appliance is yellow and causing carbon or soot.


  • Appliances are not properly installed maintained or used.


  • A chimney is plugged with debris - squirrel and bird nests are often the culprits.


  • Vent pipes are rusted causing spaces, gaps, or leaks.


  • Vehicles, lawn mowers or grills are operated in a closed garage.


  • A wood burning fireplace uses too much oxygen, causing a backdraft from other appliance flues.


  • The furnace air intake is blocked.  If housed in a small room, make sure there are louvered doors.


  • Auxiliary wood-burning heaters or fireplaces are used incorrectly


  • A gas range is used for space heating.


Placement of Carbon Monoxide Detector
At least one detector should be located in or near primary bedrooms.  The alarm would wake you if you were sleeping.


Additional detectors are recommended when there are multiple furnaces or when bedrooms are in different areas of the home.


Place detectors at least five feet from any bathroom.  Excessive humidity an aerosols can cause false alarms in some detectors.


Avoid placing detectors near open windows or doors.  Weather conditions can also affect the detector's reliability.


If the CO Detector Alarm Sounds


Do not panic:


  • Check to see if anyone is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.


  • If anyone is in need of urgent medical attention, leave the premises immediately and call 911.  Then call your gas utility or other qualified contractor to have your appliances checked.


If there is no emergency:


  • Open doors and windows to vent the building.  Turn the thermostat to the lowest position.  Turn off all unvented appliances (range, auxiliary heaters).


  • Check flues for obstructions.


  • Check for soot around the base of the water heater and furnace


  • Check for a vehicle operating in the garage.


Check the surroundings:


  • Is the detector properly located, away from kitchens, furnace areas and open windows?


  • Are there heavy smokers in the house?


  • Were cleaning agents or aerosols used recently near the detector?


  • What are the weather conditions?  Extended rains and dense fog make it more difficult for the home to effectively vent low levels of CO.


If your alarm sounds and you are unable to determine the problem, have your equipment inspected by your gas utility, fuel supply company, or a heating contractor.  There is a fee for this service.  Explain that your detector is sounding, as well as any other symptoms or conditions that exist.


False Alarms


Unnecessary calls for false alarms can cost dollars as well as lives.  A call to the Livonia Fire department can cost the community as much as $600.   If it turns out to be a false alarm, it could waste precious time in responding to a real emergency.

Poison Prevention


Take a Poison Patrol" of your home.
Use this home checklist to make sure
your home is poison proof for children.


Young children will eat and drink almost anything!  Never call medicine "candy".  Children should not be deceived by having flavored medicines called "candy".  When left alone, they may locate the bottle and eat or drink its contents.


Growing children are curious about things that glitter, pretty colored pills, and bottle and containers of all kinds.  These items arouse a child's natural curiosity.  If a child is in the crawling stage, arrange to keep household products in places other than below the kitchen sink unless the cabinet is locked or secured with child safety latches.


If the child is able to climb, find a shelf that is completely beyond his/her ability to reach, or better yet, lock these products in a cabinet or closet.   Children will pull drawers out and use them as stairs to reach upper cabinets!


When Do Poisonings Occur?


  • In times of stress (family problems, birth of a child, illness).


  • During a change of routine (moving, traveling, having guests).


  • When poisonous products are stored in pop bottles, jars and other containers normally used for food.


  • When adult attention is absent (meal preparation time, telephone time).


Who Is Poisoned?


Chart-Who Poisoned




Where Do Poisonings Occur?


Chart-Where Poisoned


What Poisons Can Be Found in Your Home


Household Products:
Disinfectants, Detergents, Bath cleansers, Bleach, Lye


Ammonia, Paint thinners & strippers, Glue


Rubbing, Medicinal, Spirits


Vitamins with iron, Barbiturates, Aspirin, Cold remedies


Rat poisons, Insect killers


Plant food, Fertilizers, House plants, Outdoor plants


Shampoo, Perfume, Make-up, Nail polish remover


Petroleum Products:
Paint, Kerosene, Gasoline, Lighter fluid


Five Keys to a "Home Safe Home"


  • Place safety latches on all cupboards and drawers easily reached by children.


  • Store all poisonous products (including medications) in their clearly labeled, original containers.


  • Know which plants in your home are poisonous and keep them out of children's reach.


  • Have a one ounce bottle of Ipecac Syrup on hand for each child in your home.


  • Make sure all poisonous products (including medications) are stored out of reach of children.

    Ten Smart Routes to Bicycle Safety


  1. Protect Your Head - Wear A Helmet


    Bicycle helmets can reduce head injuries by 85 percent.  Select a helmet that fits snugly and sits flat atop the head.


    For children, use the extra padding that comes with the helmet to help ensure a proper fit.  The padding can be removed as the child grows.


    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends bicyclists wear a helmet that complies with Standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the Snell Memorial Foundation.
  2. See And Be Seen


    Wear clothes that make you more visible.  Wear neon, fluorescent or other bright colors when riding a bicycle.
  3. Avoid Biking At Night
    It is far more dangerous to bicycle at night than during the day.   Most bicycles are equipped for daylight use and need to be adapted for nighttime use.

    To ride at night, you should:

    • Ride with reflectors that meet the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requirements.   These should be permanently installed on bicycles for daytime use also.
    • Add the brightest lights you fan find to the front and rear of your bicycle.
    • Wear retro-reflective clothing or material on ankles, wrists, back and helmet.
    • Only ride in areas familiar to you.  Brightly lit streets are best.
  4. Stay Alert.  Always Keep A Lookout For Obstacles In Your Path
    Stay alert and watch out for potholes, cracks, loose gravel, expansion joints, railroad tracks, wet leaves, drainage grates or anything that could make you fall.

    Be especially careful in wet weather and when there may be ice or frost on your path.

    Cross all railroad tracks at a 90 degree angle and proceed slowly, and use special care on bridges.

  5. Go With The Flow.  The Safe Way Is The Right Way
    Ride on the right side in a straight and predictable path.  Always go single file in the same direction as other vehicles.  Riding against traffic puts you where motorists don't expect you.
  6. Check For Traffic Always Be Aware Of The Traffic Around You.
    Over 70 percent of car-bicycle crashes occur at driveways or other intersections.  Before you enter any street or intersection, check for traffic.   Always look left-right-left, and walk your bicycle while looking.
  7. Learn The Rules Of The Road - Obey Traffic Laws
    Bicycles are considered vehicles, and bicyclists must obey the same rules as motorists.  Learn the State driver's handbook, signal your moves and never wear headphones.
  8. Assure Bicycle Readiness
    Adjust your bicycle to fit you.  Before riding, check to make sure all parts are secure and working well.
  9. Stop It!  Always Check Brakes First
    Always control your speed by using your brakes.  Keep your brakes adjusted.  Riding in wet weather takes more stopping distance.
  10. Wheels Should Be Securely Fastened
    If your bicycle has quick release wheels, it is your responsibility to make sure they are firmly closed at all times and to use the safety retainer, if equipped.

    Check wheels before every ride.


IAFF Local 1164
14910 Farmington Rd.
Livonia, MI 48154

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