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What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, deadly gas. Because you can't see, taste or smell it, carbon monoxide can kill you before you know it's there. Today's energy-efficient, Air-tight homes contribute to the problem by trapping CO-polluted air inside the home. Many municipalities across the country have adopted codes requiring CO alarms. This number is growing annually.

Why is carbon monoxide so dangerous?
The great danger of carbon monoxide is its attraction to hemoglobin in the bloodstream. CO is breathed in through the lungs and bonds with hemoglobin in your blood, displacing the oxygen which cells need to function. When CO is present in the air, it rapidly accumulates in the blood. Severe exposure can eventually displace enough oxygen in your system to suffocate you from the inside out, resulting in brain damage or death.

Where does carbon monoxide occur?
CO is a common by-product of fuel burning appliances. It can be emitted by sources including gas or oil furnaces, gas clothes dryers, water heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, charcoal grills, gas ranges and space heaters. A clogged chimney, improper venting and attached garages can also cause problems.

Where should I install carbon monoxide alarms?
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), at least one CO alarm should be installed near a home's sleeping area. It is important that all residents would hear the alarm -and be awakened-if the alarm sounds at night. Additional alarms on other levels add an extra measure of safety. If you install a CO alarm in the vicinity of a furnace (or other fuel-burning heat source) try to maintain a 15-20 foot distance between the appliance and the CO alarm to minimize "nuisance" alarms.

Who is at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning?
Everyone is at risk. Experts believe that vulnerability to CO poisoning increases for unborn babies, infants, senior citizens and people with coronary or respiratory problems. These people are considered to be at greatest risk.