Carbon Monoxide Safety

You can't see or smell carbon monoxide, but at high levels it can kill 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. Be safe. Practice the DO's and DON'Ts of carbon monoxide. 

CO Poisoning Symptoms

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. Prevent CO Poisoning Play it Safe - If you experience symptoms that you think could be from CO poisoning: 
  • Open doors and windows and leave the house. 
  • DO NOT re-enter the premises until cleared by emergency personnel.
  • GO TO AN EMERGENCY ROOM and tell the physician you suspect CO poisoning.
Safety Tips 
  • Install CO alarms outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home including the basement.
  • Keep CO alarms clear of dust and debris.
  • Ensure CO alarms are plugged all the way into a working outlet, or if battery operated, have working batteries.
Prevention is the Key: 

  • DO have your appliances inspected by a trained professional.
  • DO choose appliances that vent outside whenever possible.
  • DO read and follow all of the instructions that accompany any fuel-burning device.
  • DON'T idle the car in a garage -- even if the garage door is open.
  • DON'T use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.
  • DON'T ever use a charcoal grill indoors -- even in a fireplace.
  • DON'T sleep in any room with an unvented gas space heater.
  • DON'T use any gasoline-powered engines in enclosed spaces.
  • DON'T ignore symptoms, particularly if more than one person is feeling them.