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UL releases carbon monoxide report

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Edited by the Electronicstalk editorial team Feb 9, 2010

A recent survey by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has revealed that consumers may not be equipped with the right information to protect themselves from the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

The study showed that 62 per cent of people surveyed in the US couldn't correctly detect CO poisoning symptoms, which typically result in flu-like symptoms.

Another 70 per cent do not inspect common household sources of CO emission, such as a furnace or hot water heater, at least once a year.

Additional survey results point to the lack of general knowledge about preventing CO poisoning.

Around 60 per cent could not identify any potential signs of a CO leak in the home.

Only one in five knew that rusting on flue pipes - one of the most telling signs - signified a risk of a CO leak.

Two-thirds did not know what common household items can potentially emit CO, such as hot-water heaters, charcoal grills and portable generators.

CO is produced and emitted by incomplete burning of fuel, such as propane, kerosene, gasoline, oil, natural gas, wood and charcoal; and because it is odourless and colourless, people can be exposed to CO without even knowing it.

However, CO poisoning is avoidable and preventable if the necessary safety measures are taken.

UL recommends a three-part strategy that consumers can employ to protect against the poisonous gas: inspect, protect and detect.

Be alert to danger signs and have a qualified technician inspect homes once a year.

Potential signs of CO leaks could include: streaks of carbon or soot around the service door of fuel-burning appliances; moisture collecting on the windows and walls of furnace rooms; and fallen soot from the fireplace or small amounts of water leaking from the base of the chimney.

Fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, hot-water heaters and stoves require yearly maintenance.

Over time, appliance parts can become damaged or need replacement.

A qualified technician can identify and repair product issues before they become a safety concern.

Avoid placing a CO alarm directly on top of or directly across from fuel-burning appliances.

Protect the home by purchasing and installing a CO alarm.

Purchase and install UL-listed CO alarms outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement and any other locations required by applicable laws.

Be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions carefully before installing the alarm.

If CO alarms are already installed in the home, make sure to test these monthly and replace batteries at least once a year.

Be ready to react when a problem is detected.

If a CO alarm sounds, don't disable it.

Immediately open windows and doors for ventilation and move to a fresh-air location outdoors.

Make sure everyone from inside the home is accounted for.

Call for help from a fresh-air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrive.

After a CO alarm sounds, always have a professional inspect the home so the source of CO can be identified, then immediately fixed.

If anyone in the home is experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning - headache, dizziness or other flu-like symptoms - immediately evacuate the house, call the fire department and seek medical attention.

Find out more about this article. Request a brochure, download technical specifications and request samples here.
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