The Silent Killer Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Living-Quarters Trailers, Campers and RVs

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that is a byproduct of incomplete combustion of anything that burns.

2,244 deaths

Between 2010-2015 over two thousand deaths in the US were the result of unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, with the highest numbers (36%) of deaths each year occurring in winter months.

Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of poisoning death within the United States.

Living Quarters contain several sources of carbon monoxide:

  • Generator
  • Exhaust
  • Space heater
  • Kitchen Cooktop
  • Campfires
  • Exhaust from other trailers

When setting up camp, make sure all trailers are at least 20 feet away from your generator.

Don’t idle any vehicle that can emit carbon monoxide within a closed area. Within 15 to 20 minutes, you can see levels that can cause symptoms. If you need to warm a vehicle, do so in an open area where toxic levels cannot form.

Installing a CO Detector:

  • Place in a central location.
  • The CO Detector should be about 5 feet from the floor.
  • Closest to where the majority of people will sleep.
  • Not in a "dead" corner where there is no air circulation.
  • Always refer to the owner's manual for specific instructions.

CO rises slowly as the air in the room warms, but stays close to the floor in a cool, enclosed space.

You want it to be where there is representative and timely air flow.

Batteries in carbon monoxide and smoke detectors should be replaced at each daylight savings time change, even if the detector appears to be working properly.

The most commonly seen symptom of CO poisoning is a continuous headache that sits at the front of the head and generates a dull pain.

If you have been exposed to carbon monoxide, immediately follow these emergency steps:

Evacuate the location that you believe is the source of the carbon monoxide exposure. Open doors and windows in the location to allow fresh air to enter the space and carbon monoxide to escape.

You should treat carbon monoxide as you would a fire – this gas can and does kill in minutes, and just because there are no flames and no physical evidence of the gas, this does not make it any less dangerous.

Go outdoors and get fresh air as quickly as possible to release the chemicals from your body.

Call 911 for emergency medical treatment.

Have a licensed professional examine the area you suspect is releasing carbon monoxide and make any necessary repairs.

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