Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that kills without warning. It claims the lives of hundreds of people every year and makes thousands ill.
Many household items produce this poison gas, including gas and oil-burning furnaces, hot water heaters, portable generators, and charcoal grills. The Ogden City Fire Department has responded to 110 CO-related calls in 2016 and 81 in 2017. This does not include medical calls where CO poisoning was found to be the cause of illness after further inspection.
“The fact that carbon monoxide is so naturally undetectable is what makes it so dangerous,” said Kevin Brown, the Ogden City Fire Marshal. “The symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu, so people will go to sleep thinking they might be getting sick, and if its carbon monoxide, they could possibly never wake up.”
All residential occupancies with fuel-burning appliances should have a working CO detector, and previous incidents involving Ogden City Fire and Police help to prove that importance. One investigation of an unattended death by three Ogden police officers revealed the victim had been poisoned by carbon monoxide. There had been no working CO detectors on scene and as a result, the officers were poisoned as well.
These detectors should be installed in every level of a home and replacement needs can range from 5 – 10 years, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations. Ogden City currently sells CO detectors at a discounted rate of $10 for residents in order to help further this safety initiative in the community.
“In 2005 and 2006, we received an AFG prevention grant to install 5,360 CO detectors and 1,000 smoke detectors,” said Mike Mathieu, the Ogden City Fire Chief. “Many firefighters and Weber State University students helped to install those detectors in homes in the community, which are now are over ten years old. This is why we’re trying to push our City-sponsored program more than ever.“
There are several things to be aware of concerning CO detector installation:
- Battery-operated or battery back-up CO detectors should be installed near every sleeping area in the home and checked regularly to ensure they are functioning properly.
- Detectors should not be placed in utility closets that contain fuel-burning appliances, as this could trigger false alarms.
- Detectors should not be placed by windows or doors where fresh air will eliminate any CO gas recognition by the sensors.
- Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, fatigue, nausea, confusion, shortness of breath and blurred vision.
Carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms can be purchased at the Ogden Municipal Building at 2549 Washington Boulevard with proof of residency, such as a utility bill. Residents can buy up to two detectors per household with this discount. More information on this purchasing process can be found online.