The risk of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning increases during winter months due to cold temperatures forcing home heating systems to run longer and more frequently. Often called the silent killer, CO is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, fuel burning heating and cooking equipment when damaged or misused can be sources of CO. Other sources of CO include cars, generators, lawn mowers and grills.
CO alarms provide early warning of CO in your home. To help prevent CO poisoning, the Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue System (LC-CFRS) recommends installing CO alarms on every level of the home if your home has fuel-burning appliances or an attached garage. If you show symptoms of CO poisoning, immediately move to a fresh air location, and seek medical care. CO poisoning symptoms include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.
Here are some important CO Alarm tips:
- CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.
- Choose a CO alarm that is listed by a qualified testing laboratory.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
- Test CO alarms at least once a month.
- Check for low batteries during your monthly test. If the battery is low, replace it.
- Replace CO Alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location, such as outdoors or by an open window or door. Call for help from the fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel declare that it is safe to re-enter the home.
The LC-CFRS Smoke Alarm Program offers free home safety assessments to all residents. During the free home safety assessment, personnel will check smoke alarms and CO alarms for proper placement and operation. If your smoke alarms are broken or outdated, LC-CFRS will replace them with battery powered alarms at no cost and install additional alarms as necessary.
LC-CFRS recently received a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant for a limited number of combination smoke and CO alarms. During the free home assessment, personnel will be able to install these combination smoke and CO alarms as needed while supplies last. If LC-CFRS personnel run out of the combination smoke and CO alarms, they can install smoke alarms where needed and provide homeowners with information on CO alarms for their home.
For more information about the Smoke Alarm Program or to schedule an appointment, call the hotline 703-737-8093 or visit www.loudoun.gov/smokealarms and complete the online form.