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Carbon Monoxide Detections


View Emergency Action Plan as a PDF

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas, as well as a dangerous chemical asphyxiant. As a precaution against CO exposure hazards, all dormitory facilities are equipped with CO detectors tied into existing fire detection/suppression systems. Certain other buildings have stand-alone CO detectors, and there are a number of hand held CO detectors maintained by various departments on campus. 

  1. Recognize those activities and locations where CO is routinely generated, as well as the physical signs/symptoms associated with CO exposure:
    • Primary building heating systems, hot water heaters, and emergency generators that burn natural gas or fuel oil, usually in building mechanical spaces or other outdoor locations. 
    • Indoor or outdoor cooking systems that burn natural gas, propane or charcoal, and food warming devices that burn sterno fuel canisters. 
    • Any other device which combines an open flame and fuel source—wood fires, candles, etc. 
    • Where there is exposure to smoke/fire, there is also exposure to CO. 
    • Since CO exposure inhibits the body’s ability to take in oxygen, the signs/symptoms of CO exposure include headaches, nausea, dizziness, confusion and hallucinations, each of which worsen as either CO’s concentration in air or duration of exposure increases. 
  2. If you occupy a facility with a CO detector tied into the fire safety system, detections at certain levels will result in the detector alarm activation, which might also result in a building evacuation following Campus Safety investigation. If you occupy a facility with stand alone CO detectors not tied into the fire safety system, detections of CO at certain levels resulting in detector alarms should result in an evacuation of the space by occupying personnel, and the manual notification of Campus Safety.
  3. If you occupy a facility that is not equipped with CO detectors, but otherwise have reason to believe there might be CO hazards, immediately notify Campus Safety (ext 4000), who will arrange for the use of hand-held instrumentation to evaluate the situation. Based upon this evaluation, decisions will be made to clear the situation, evacuate the building, or refer the situation to Facilities Management.
  4. If a CO hazard exists resulting in a building evacuation, evacuate all rooms and close all doors behind you to confine the condition—DO NOT LOCK DOORS!!
  5. When evacuating a building, assist the handicapped in exiting the building. While elevators are reserved for handicapped persons during evacuations, DO NOT USE ELEVATORS IF THERE IS AN ACTIVE FIRE. Assist handicapped persons by any alternative means.
  6. Following emergency evacuations, your designated place of shelter is the primary assembly point, or alternate assembly point if the emergency is impacting your primary location. Proceed to your assembly point once instructed to do so by your Building Coordinator, RA, faculty member or supervisor. Keep streets, fire lanes, hydrants and walkways clear for emergency vehicles and crews.
  7. If requested, assist Emergency crews as necessary.
  8. A Command Post may be set up near the emergency site. Keep clear of the Command Post unless you have official business.

IMPORTANT—DO NOT RETURN TO AN EVACUATED BUILDING until and unless told to do so by College officials. And remember—during an actual emergency resulting in a building evacuation, HEADCOUNTS are to be performed at the assembly point(s), not the muster point. Stay there until an accurate HEADCOUNT has been taken. 

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