Thursday, August 11, 2016

Carbon monoxide poisoning: How to protect your family all year long

People tend to think of carbon monoxide poisoning as mainly being a wintertime danger. Most CO poisonings do occur then, but turns out it can be a summertime issue as well. Every year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires, and more than 20,000 visit the emergency room, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As ambassadors for Kidde, Fireman Max and I are here to share key safety pointers from Kidde and safety organizations.

Keep the grill away from the house

Don't use charcoal or gas grills near a window, through which CO fumes could seep in. Set yours up an an open area that's at least ten feet away from your house or building. (Word from Fireman Max: "Hot dogs taste very good.")

Make sure generators are properly ventilated

Summer storms can make generators kick on—and it's key that they're properly ventilated to avoid CO poisoning. Keep them away from windows, doors and vent openings, advises the National Fire Protection Association. And never use portable generators inside homes or garages, even if doors or windows are open, notes the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Got a motor boat? 

Carbon monoxide can accumulate in or around motorboats, so you'll want a carbon monoxide alarm there, too, per Safe Kids International.

When camping...

Avoid using a charcoal grill, hibachi, fuel-burning lantern or portable camping stove inside a tent or camper, says the CDC.

Turn the car off

Never leave a car running in an attached garage or carport. 

Be alarmed!

Only 42 percent of homes in America have a working CO alarm, according to the CPSC. You want to install at least one battery-operated CO alarm or AC-powered unit with battery backup on each level of your home and near sleeping areas. We have several Kidde Sealed Lithium Battery Power Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Digital Display, which has a 10-year battery. The company's new RemoteLync Monitor listens for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home and sends an alert to your smartphone when there's a potential issue. 

Know the symptoms of CO poisoning

CO is odorless, colorless and only detectable by a working CO alarm, so it's good to know the symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning including headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Symptoms of high-level CO poisoning: mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination and loss of consciousness.

Pack this on your road trip

Since there's no guarantee your hotel or vacation rental will have a CO alarm, consider toting a battery-operated, UL-listed carbon monoxide alarm.

More from the fire safety series from me and Fireman Max:

9 summer fire safety tips for outdoor fun

Making a family fire escape plan for kids with special needs

What we learned from our home fire safety inspection

Protecting your family from a home fire

For additional info, check out: 

Kidde on Facebook
@KiddeSafety on Twitter
@kiddefiresafety on Instagram

This post is one in a series sponsored by Kidde, for whom I am a compensated ambassador. 

Image source: Flickr/SmartSign


  1. Thank you for keeping us all safe Fireman Max (and Ellen)! Using your grill near the house is also a fire hazard. It's important that everyone knows if there is an alarm to get everyone out of the house(including pets). Once it happened to my sister and I but it turned out the battery just needed to be replaced

    1. You're so right, Kathryn. We've done practice fire drills with the kids.

  2. CO mixes more quickly with blood than O2, so poisoning occurs rather quickly.

    1. I don't know much about the reaction, Anna, but not surprised that you do.


Thanks for sharing!

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