Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Threat

It is odorless, colorless and tasteless, yet it can have deadly consequences — fortunately carbon monoxide in your home can easily be detected with the right equipment.


Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as the “Silent Killer” as it is odorless, colorless and tasteless, yet can have deadly consequences. Carbon monoxide is a gas byproduct of burning fossil fuels in your furnace, clothes dryer, fireplace, automobile, portable heater, generator or other small engines and home appliances. Most issues occur when the equipment is malfunctioning or is in need of service or repair.

When inhaled, carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen in the blood, depriving the body’s organs of oxygen. Elevated levels of carbon monoxide will start to impact the body and may cause dizziness, headaches, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pains and confusion. Higher levels can cause disorientation, unconsciousness and even death.

Early warning of carbon monoxide in your home is critically important and can easily be achieved with the installation of a battery operated, plug-in or hardwired detector.


Preventing Carbon Monoxide in Your Home

Because most carbon monoxide issues occur when a fuel-burning source (furnace, clothes dryer, fireplace, etc.) is not working properly or is in need of service/repair, proper maintenance and use of your home systems is essential.

  • Have yearly maintenance contracts and inspections on furnace and chimney(s).
  • Make sure other fuel-burning appliances, like hot water heaters and gas dryers, are properly vented with no cracks, broken seals or blocked vents.
  • Don’t use generators and fuel-burning space heaters inside your home.
  • Never leave your automobile running in the garage especially with the garage door closed.

Detecting Carbon Monoxide in Your Home

Early warning of carbon monoxide in your home is critically important and can easily be achieved with the installation of a battery operated, plug-in or hardwired detector.

  • Install one carbon monoxide detector per floor — at minimum — and at least one outside each bedroom area or within 15 feet of bedrooms.
  • Detectors should be located within 5-15 feet of garage and mechanical rooms on the interior of the home.
  • Detectors should be mounted 5 feet above the floor or at eye level on the wall.
  • Combination smoke/carbon monoxide detectors should be mounted on the ceiling or 6 inches from the ceiling on a wall, or as required by local code.
  • Batteries should be replaced each year and detectors should be replaced approximately every 5 years.

Rick Albers is Assistant Vice President, Senior Premier Account Specialist with Chubb Personal Risk Services’ Risk Consulting Group.

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