Carbon Monoxide alarm

What’s new in Carbon Monoxide messaging?

NFPA’s Educational Messaging Desk Reference, now in its updated 2020 edition, offers Fire and Life Safety (FLS) educators and those involved in injury prevention and public education, a compendium of accurate, relevant and up to date messaging for a multitude fire and burn prevention topics. New Chapters on Youth Fire Setting and Pet Safety have been added, along with new and updated messaging related to carbon monoxide, vacation rental homes, home escape planning, electrical, and candle safety among others. 

The messages are the result of input from a variety of stakeholders, reviewed by technical experts, and developed by a multi-disciplinary group of professionals to assure accuracy, clarity and consistency. When using the desk reference, it is critical to review an entire topic section as messages build on each other to frame the topic. Each week I’ll highlight a new/updated section as part of our efforts to promote use of this document across fire & burn prevention professionals, starting with the new messaging on carbon monoxide.  

Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, 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. The number of fatalities in the US attributed to CO poisoning has remained fairly consistent from 1999-2018 averaging 1.3 deaths per million population, with 435 such deaths occurring in 2018.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), generators are the leading product involved in CO incidents, followed by heating equipment.

New messaging for CO includes an expanded list of sources of CO emission, and stronger messaging related to the need for CO alarms in the home. Proper use of fireplaces to prevent CO poisoning is new too, along with proper use of portable generators, a major cause of CO poisoning. The desk reference also now includes a new section of CO messaging within the Boating and Marinas chapter.

What’s Next? As part of the Educational Messaging Desk Reference updates, we’ll be updating our safety tip sheets and hosting future webinars for FLS Educators highlighting both the new information and how educators can use the desk reference in their public education efforts. Next week’s blog will focus on the new and updated messaging Fire Safety Away from Home - peer-to-peer hospitality, motor home, camper and recreation vehicle safety.

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Andrea Vastis
Senior Director, Public Education, public health promotion & education professional passionate about eliminating disparities in access, education and resources.

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