Carbon Monoxide and Radon Safety
Carbon monoxide (CO) gases are created when heating elements that use natural gas, propane, wood, or oil do not completely burn off their fuels.
Sources of CO include:
- Gas-fired appliances
- Charcoal grills
- Wood-burning furnaces or fireplaces
- Motor vehicles
Radon is a radioactive gas which occurs naturally inside the earth. Outdoors, radon is dispersed in the air and generally, causes no harmful effects. But, if there are cracks or holes in the foundation of a building, radon can become trapped inside. According to the American Cancer Society, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide and radon exposure:
- Shortness of breath
- Pain or tightness in the chest
The effects of both gases exposure can vary depending on age, health and the length of exposure. Since it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, it’s critical to test for these gases inside your home.
Prevent CO and radon poisoning by:
- Never using your oven to heat your home.
- Never keep your car running in a garage (even with the garage doors open).
- Sealing any cracks or openings in your home’s foundation.
- Having a qualified professional check all fuel appliances and systems annually.
Testing for carbon monoxide or radon gas:
Installing alarms is a homeowner’s best line of defense against carbon monoxide poisoning and radon exposure. Testing kits and detectors can be purchased at your local hardware store or online.
Follow these tips to help protect your home from these deadly gases:
- Install detectors in centralized locations within your home to ensure the alarms can be heard in each room.
- Replace sensors and batteries in each detector according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Perform a monthly test on all detectors to make sure they are working properly.
If your CO detector or radon alarm goes off. . .
And no one is feeling ill:
- Silence the alarm.
- Turn off all appliances and heating sources (i.e. furnace and fireplace).
- Open doors and windows to ventilate the house with fresh air.
- Contact your heating service or a qualified professional to investigate.
And illness is a factor:
- Evacuate all occupants immediately.
- Determine how many occupants are ill and their symptoms.
- Go to a hospital emergency room or call 911.
- Do not re-enter the home without approval from the fire department or a qualified professional.
- Call your heating service or a qualified professional to repair the source of the CO or radon.
For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning, contact the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services at 800-648-6942.
For more information on radon, contact the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) at 800-723-6642 (800-RADONGAS).