“The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as ‘flu-like.’ If you breathe in a lot of CO it can make you pass out or kill you.” – CDC
Carbon monoxide is produced by smoke and fuel burning vehicles, equipment, and appliances.
If you suspect people have been poisoned by carbon monoxide:
- Remove people from affected building to fresh air if possible and call 911 for further assistance.
- Call your local city or county building inspector for a building inspection, if necessary, to find the cause of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- You should have a minimum of two quality, well-located, working detectors present. Some cities may require a minimum code standard.
- Carbon monoxide detector batteries – It is typically suggested to replace batteries twice a year, every six months, at daylight saving time changes.
If you smell gas; rotten egg odor:
- Leave building and call 911 or gas company for further assistance.
- Call owner if you rent to notify them of the situation.
- Call plumbing or HVAC company for repairs if necessary.
- Gas shutoff valves are typically located within 3 feet of gas equipment and appliances. Main gas shutoff valves are typically located outside along an exterior wall at gas meters, gas regulators, and gas piping. Propane and home heating oil tanks should have main gas shutoff valves as well.
“Hydrogen sulfide (H₂S) is a colorless gas with a strong odor of rotten eggs. Exposure to hydrogen sulfide may cause irritation to the eyes and respiratory system. It can also cause apnea, coma, convulsions; dizziness, headache, weakness, irritability, insomnia; stomach upset, and if liquid: frostbite. [Note: Sense of smell becomes rapidly fatigued & can NOT be relied upon to warn of the continuous presence of H2S.]” – CDC
Sewer gas also contains methane, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ammonia, and nitrous oxides.
If a sewer odor is detected:
- Get fresh air if necessary
- Seek medical attention if necessary
- Check water seals in p-traps with a flashlight for a proper water level and add water as necessary*
- Air out affected area
- Call owner if renting for repairs if necessary
- Call a plumbing company for an inspection and repairs if necessary
*Water levels should be checked once every week or two and replenished as necessary by simply adding water until the water level won’t get any higher assuming the drains are not clogged.
Every interior fixture and floor drain, connected to a sewer is required to have a p-trap water seal. P-traps and prohibited s-traps require standing water in the trap to create a water seal that prevents odors and gases from entering buildings.
Fixtures rarely used are most susceptible to dry traps, odors, and gases.
Any cracks, disconnected or unsealed drain pipes, and bad toilet wax ring connections, in a drainage system can be a source of sewer odors.