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carbon monoxide and generators safety

carbon monoxide and generators safety
Carbon monoxide (CO) is odorless, colorless, tasteless, and, for those reasons, known as the silent killer. The symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to those that occur with the flu or food poisoning, and include headaches, tightness of chest, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.

Nearly every home uses fuel burning appliances — including gas and oil furnaces and boilers, water heaters, gas stoves, space heaters, gas clothes dryers, and even generators — that can, if not working properly, produce lethal levels of CO. By taking a few simple precautions you can protect yourself and your family from CO poisoning.

Be sure generators and appliances are properly adjusted and working to manufacturer's specifications and local building codes.
All heating systems, vents, and flues should be inspected and cleaned annually by a qualified technician. Make any repairs or replacements the technician recommends.
Keep your furnace or boiler's air intake supply clear of obstructions. If your equipment is in a separate room, leave the door open or make sure it is louvered or has ventilating grills of adequate size.
Con Edison customers living in private homes who convert to gas heat must have their chimneys cleaned by a licensed contractor before operating the new gas heating system.
Never use your gas range or oven to heat your home.
Do not use kerosene or propane auxiliary heaters indoors or in any enclosed space since they cause CO to build up. The use of such heaters in New York City and parts of Westchester County is illegal.
Barbecue grills should only be used outdoors. Do not use them in an enclosed porch or in your garage.
Never leave your car, lawn mower, or snow blower running in a shed or garage, or in any enclosed space.
If you suspect CO poisoning, immediately evacuate the premises and call 911.

install CO detectors

In New York City, the law requires that every home have a CO detector. Every home should install approved, Underwriters Laboratories (UL)-listed CO detectors, which sound an alarm before dangerous levels can accumulate. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends installing CO detectors within 15 feet of each bedroom. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper placement, use, and maintenance.

Con Edison does not sell or endorse a specific brand of CO detector, but does stress that a CO detector is not just the law in New York City, it's also important protection for your home. Every home should also have a comprehensive CO prevention plan, one that ensures home appliances are operating safely and correctly, that family members are aware of the warning signs of CO poisoning, and what to do if the CO alarm sounds. For more information, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site at



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