Carbon Monoxide, the Invisible Killer

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It was devastating to read the news of a young man killed, and five other adults falling ill, from carbon monoxide poisoning on Christmas Eve.  As quoted in the Missoulian, Capt. Vince Williams with the Helena Fire Department warns, “The absolute No. 1 way to combat this is carbon monoxide detectors.”

Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel can be sources of carbon monoxide.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 150 people in the Unites States die every year from accidental nonfire-related carbon monoxide poisoning associated with consumer products, including generators. Other products include faulty, improperly-used or incorrectly-vented fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces.

Landlords and renters should be aware that the landlord has a duty to install a carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector in each dwelling unit under his or her control. Once the detectors are installed, the tenant must maintain them in good working order during the rental period.

If you own your own home, be sure to both install and maintain the detectors in your home.