CO Precautions For Cold Weather Operations

A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report indicated that carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning—not linked to fires—kills about 500 Americans and poisons at least 15,000 each year.

CO is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that can be absorbed into the bloodstream and inhibits the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, leading to a potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning.

As cold weather takes hold in many regions, Grainger, a North American distributor of safety products with headquarters in Lake Forest, IL, provides tips for businesses and individuals to consider before firing up their furnaces:

  • Install CO monitors; in a home, suggested locations are in each bedroom and living level of a home.
  • Check the expiration dates of the CO monitors. The average life is approximately 5 to 7 years before the sensor will fail.
  • Check gas appliances periodically for proper operation and venting.
  • Ensure chimneys, flues, and vents are clear of debris.
  • Do not use unvented gas and wood stoves or charcoal grills indoors.
  • Do not permit automobiles or other gas powered equipment to run indoors without proper exhaust ventilation.
  • Do not run a car or truck inside a garage attached to the facility, even if the door is left open.

Symptoms of low level CO poisoning include headaches, nausea, weakness, dizziness and confusion. If you suspect you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, seek medical attention immediately.

“Providing a safe working environment for employees is critical in managing a successful organization,” said Jeff Weaver, safety strategy manager, Grainger. “As North America’s largest distributor of safety products and solutions, Grainger is committed to safety education and prevention, recognizing that safe and healthy employees help contribute to a productive business.”

The CDC website provides further information, including information on CO hazards when using small gasoline powered engines.