Easy steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

Posted at 9:23 PM, Mar 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-03 18:06:44-05

It's odorless, colorless and tasteless.  And it can kill you.  But, there are some very important things you can do to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home.

A close call for Steve Jerome. 

"Very, very lucky that it got put in there. Very fortunate," he said. 

Just two days after installing a new carbon monoxide detector in his Mayfield home, it went off after he and his girlfriend  fell asleep in front of the fire. 

"I jumped up when it happened, went over and shut if off and opened a bunch of windows,"  Jerome said.

Inside Dominion East Ohio Gas' teaching lab on Cleveland's east side, senior safety and training specialist Don MacBride showed us, like he does with every field worker and hundreds of local firefighters, what can trigger a carbon monoxide leak. In a furnace, a blue cone-like flame is good.  A bright yellow flame spells trouble.  

"If you let that go and do not maintain on a yearly basis, you're going from a nice, sharp blue flame to a lazy yellow flame.  That's the flame, again, that has the potential to produce carbon monoxide.  Couple that with a chimney problem and you've got nowhere for the carbon monoxide to go, but back in your house,"  MacBride said.

Carbon monoxide is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel, including in furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, and gas ranges.  To prevent CO poisoning in your home, follow these steps:  

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in your house.  Preferably near a bedroom or in a bedroom hallway.  
  • Replace your CO detector every five years. 
  • Have your heating system, water heater and gas appliances serviced by a qualified technician annually. 
  • Also every year, get your chimney cleaned or checked. 

"Carbon monoxide poisoning is 100 percent preventable when it comes to natural gas appliances,"  said MacBride.

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, about 20,000 Americans visit the emergency room every year due to carbon monoxide poisoning and more than 400 people die from unintentional CO poisoning.

Steve Jerome is counting his blessings that he did not end up a statistic.  "Very, very lucky.  It could've (been tragic)  had it not been up there working,"  Jerome said.

If you need a carbon monoxide detector, buy one, then call your local fire department.  Some in Northeast Ohio may install them for free.