Carbon Monoxide Poisoning...

Carbon Monoxide

Roughly 300 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas.  It is made when fuels burn improperly. Many fuels can produce carbon monoxide, such as:

Health Effects


It enters the body through the lungs, and is delivered to the blood. It prevents the blood from carrying and using oxygen properly, and harms the brain and other organs. Depending on the amount breathed in, CO can:

         cause loss of coordination

         worsen heart disease

         produce fatigue, headache, weakness, confusion, disorientation, nausea, and dizziness

         very high levels can cause death


The symptoms are sometimes confused with the flu or food poisoning. Fetuses, infants, elderly, and people with heart and respiratory illnesses are particularly at high risk for the adverse health effects of carbon monoxide.




         Install a CO detector.

         Never use portable generators indoor or near windows.

         Make sure appliances are properly adjusted and working to manufacturersí instructions and local building codes.

         Obtain annual inspections for heating system, chimneys, and flues and have them cleaned by a qualified technician.

         Open flues when fireplaces are in use.

         Use proper fuel in kerosene space heaters.

         Do not use ovens and gas ranges to heat your home.

         Do not burn charcoal inside a home, cabin, recreational vehicle, or camper.

         Make sure stoves and heaters are vented to the outside and that exhaust systems do not leak.

         Do not use unvented gas or kerosene space heaters in enclosed spaces.

         Never leave a car or lawn mower engine running in a shed or garage, or in any enclosed space.

         Make sure your furnace has an adequate intake of outside air.

Emergency Actions


         Donít ignore your detector if it goes off

         Donít ignore symptoms, especially if more than one person is feeling them.

         Get fresh air immediately.

         Call 911 if you have symptoms.

         If you go to an emergency room, be sure to tell the physician that you suspect CO poisoning.

         Call the poison control center if your detector goes off, but you donít have symptoms.

         Have a qualified technician inspect your fuel-burning appliances and chimneys to make sure they are operating correctly.


Carbon Monoxide Detectors


Carbon monoxide detectors are just as important as the proper use and maintenance of your fuel-burning appliances. CO detector technology is still being developed and the detectors are not generally considered to be as reliable as the smoke detectors found in homes today. You should not choose a CO detector solely on the basis of cost; do some research on the different features available.


Carbon monoxide detectors should meet Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) standards, have a long-term warranty, and be easily self-tested and reset to ensure proper functioning. For maximum effectiveness during sleeping hours, carbon monoxide detectors should be placed close to sleeping areas.  A plug in detector with battery back-up, especially sound alarms, is best.  Check your batteries monthly and replace as needed.