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Children's Health Protection

Carbon Monoxide—Gotta Vent It

Did you know that one of the biggest dangers that may be hanging out in your house is invisible and has almost no smell? We’re talking about carbon monoxide (CO). CO can be a threat to unborn babies, infants, kids, and teens just like you. Why? CO is a gas. It is formed when a fuel like gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. Common house appliances like stoves, clothes dryers, and hot water heaters sometimes use one of these fuels. If appliance fumes are allowed to escape out of the house through a vent, the amount of CO in the air you breathe is usually not dangerous. But if appliances are not vented, CO can reach dangerously high levels, and can cause health effects that are not so invisible. CO poisoning can cause serious injury or even death! There are things you can do to prevent CO poisoning. Here are a few of them.

  1. Make sure that what keeps you warm can’t harm you. Never sleep in unvented rooms with gas or kerosene space heaters.
  2. Ask your parents to have all fuel appliances checked at least once a year by a professional.
  3. Ask an adult in your house to put CO alarms in the rooms where you and your family sleep.
  4. Keep the cookout outside. Never use barbecues or grills inside or in the garage.
  5. Let the drivers in your house know that running cars or lawnmowers in the garage is dangerous.
  6. Make sure that car and truck tail pipes are not clogged with snow or other debris.

Create a handout about the dangers of CO and work with your teachers and friends to pass it out at school. Visit www.epa.gov/iaq/co.html and research CO.

Design a certificate for household appliances that produce CO. Once an expert says they are safe, display your "Approval Certificate" on the appliance or make a chart that includes all of your household appliances that produce CO. Leave space to note when each appliance has its yearly maintenance check

Write a letter or email to friends and family telling them about the dangers of CO. Include tips on how to keep your house free from CO. Start your tips here.


Visit www.epa.gov/iaq/co.html to learn more about CO.

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