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Campus Preparedness

  DPS Reponse to Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarms

CO detectors are installed on campus in areas of CO risk. For example, detectors are installed in those residence halls that utilize their own boiler/furnace. In addition, many privately owned residences off-campus are equipped with CO detectors.

When Public Safety is notified of a Carbon Monoxide alarm occurring on campus, an immediate response occurs simultaneously with notification to Rensselaer County for a Troy Fire Department Response. Fire and Life Safety Personnel are also notified.

Evacuation of the area in question is the norm, with the possibility of an entire building evacuation occurring depending on circumstances and an assessment at the scene.

The City of Troy Fire Department responds to off-campus carbon monoxide alarms. If the building is owned or leased by Rensselaer, Public Safety will respond and act as a resource to the City Fire and /or Police Department.

 
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Safety

Information provided by the EPA.

Carbon Monoxide Can Be Deadly

You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, but at high levels it can kill a person in minutes.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. If appliances that burn fuel are maintained and used properly, the amount of CO produced is usually not hazardous. However, if appliances are not working properly or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of CO can result.

Hundreds of people die accidentally every year from CO poisoning caused by malfunctioning or improperly used fuel-burning appliances. Even more die from CO produced by idling cars. Fetuses, infants, elderly people, and people with anemia or with a history of heart or respiratory disease can be especially susceptible.

CO Poisoning Symptoms

Know the symptoms of CO poisoning. At moderate levels, you or your family can get severe headaches, become dizzy, mentally confused, nauseated, or faint. You can even die if these levels persist for a long time. Low levels can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea, and mild headaches, and may have longer term effects on your health. Since many of these symptoms are similar to those of the flu, food poisoning, or other illnesses, you may not think that CO poisoning could be the cause.

Sources of Carbon Monoxide

Unvented kerosene and gas space heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces; back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces; gas stoves; generators and other gasoline powered equipment; automobile exhaust from attached garages; and tobacco smoke.

Steps to Reduce Exposure to Carbon Monoxide

  • Keep gas appliances properly adjusted.
  • Consider purchasing a vented space heater when replacing an unvented one.
  • Use proper fuel in kerosene space heaters.
  • Install and use an exhaust fan vented to outdoors over gas stoves.
  • Open flues when fireplaces are in use.
  • Choose properly sized wood stoves that are certified to meet EPA emission standards. Make certain that doors on all wood stoves fit tightly.
  • Have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up central heating system (furnaces, flues, and chimneys) annually. Repair any leaks promptly.
  • Do not idle the car inside garage.

Play it Safe

If you experience symptoms that you think could be from CO poisoning:

GET FRESH AIR IMMEDIATELY. Open doors and windows, turn off combustion appliances and leave the house.

GO TO AN EMERGENCY ROOM and tell the physician you suspect CO poisoning. If CO poisoning has occurred, it can often be diagnosed by a blood test done soon after exposure.

Be prepared to answer the following questions for the doctor:

  • Do your symptoms occur only in the house? Do they disappear or decrease when you leave home and reappear when you return?
  • Is anyone else in your household complaining of similar symptoms? Did everyone’s symptoms appear about the same time?
  • Are you using any fuel-burning appliances in the home?
  • Has anyone inspected your appliances lately? Are you certain they are working properly?

 
For More Information:

EPA Indoor Air Information: PAn Introduction to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ): Carbon Monoxide (CO) *

EPA Office of Air and Radiation: CO - How Carbon Monoxide Affects the Way We Live and Breathe *

National Center for Environmental Health
Air and Respiratory Health Branch
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Checklist for Prevention of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning *

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission,
Office of Information and Public Affairs,
Carbon Monoxide Questions and Answers *

American Lung Association Fact Sheet on Carbon Monoxide *

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