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Carbon Monoxide Safety

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Carbon Monoxide & Home Safety Testing

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is the #1 cause of poisoning in the United States, yet less than 5% of all Carbon Monoxide poisonings are reported.

It’s now the law in Illinois to have a working CO detector in your home.

View a carbon monoxide level chart [PDF]


What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless gas. It is a common by-product of incomplete combustion, produced when fossil fuels (like oil, gas or coal) burn. Because you can’t see, taste or smell it, carbon monoxide can kill you before you know it’s there. Exposure to lower levels over time can make you sick.

Why is carbon monoxide so dangerous?
Carbon Monoxide robs you of what you need most, oxygen, which is carried to your cells and tissue by the hemoglobin in your blood. If you inhale even small amounts of CO, it quickly bonds with hemoglobin and displaces oxygen. This produces a toxic compound in your blood called carboxyhemoglobin (COHb). Carboxyhemoglobin produces flu-like symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizzy spells, confusion, and irritability. Since symptoms are similar to the flu, carbon monoxide poisoning can be misdiagnosed.

Who is at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning?
Everyone: because everyone needs oxygen to survive. Medical experts believe some people are more vulnerable to poisoning, like unborn babies, infants, children, seniors and people with heart and lung problems.

How can I protect against carbon monoxide poisoning?
The Joliet Fire Department recommends that every home have at least one carbon monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal installed near the sleeping area. Choose a CO alarm that is Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listed.

Have a qualified appliance technician check all fuel burning appliances, furnaces, venting and chimney
systems at least once a year.

How does a carbon monoxide alarm work?
A Carbon Monoxide detector triggers an alarm based on exposure to CO over time. It is designed to sound an alarm before an average, healthy adult would experience symptoms.

What do I do if my carbon monoxide alarm goes off?
It is very possible that you won’t be experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning when the alarm sounds. That doesn’t mean there is no carbon monoxide present. The alarm is supposed to go off before you feel sick, so you have time to react to take action.

Don’t panic. Call the Joliet Fire Department through the 911 telecommunication system. The dispatcher will ask you a series of questions about your medical condition. These questions are necessary to determine if this incident will require a more extensive medical evaluation by our paramedic teams.

Homeowners should not open their doors and windows. We can better locate the source of the carbon monoxide if the building is left closed. However, the resident should wait outside for our arrival.

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