Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. CO is produced any time a fossil fuel is burned in a furnace, vehicle, generator, grill or elsewhere. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or semi-enclosed paces and can poison the people and animals in them.
What are the most common sources of carbon monoxide?
- Gasoline powered engines, such as cars and boats
- Gas stoves and ovens
- Charcoal grills
- Furnaces and water heaters
- Oil, gas or kerosene heaters
- Leaking chimneys or fireplaces
What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are similar to those of the flu. Symptoms include:
People who are asleep or drunk can die from carbon monoxide poisoning before they have symptoms, which is why it is very important to have a CO detector in your home.
How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?
Take the following steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home:
- Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home.
- Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas-burning appliances serviced by a professional each year.
- Never leave a vehicle running in a garage, even with the garage door open.
- Make sure your car's tailpipe is clear of snow and other obstructions.
- Do not run fuel-powered tools or other equipment inside the home or garage, even with the door open.
- Never burn a charcoal grill or portable gas camp stove indoors or in a garage.
- Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly.
- Never use a gas range or oven to heat your home.
- Have your chimney cleaned and inspected every year.
How do I use a carbon monoxide detector?
- Detectors should be installed in the hallway near the bedrooms in each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home.
- Keep and read the instructions included with your detector for the manufacturer's recommendation on battery replacement, alarms, cleaning of the detector, precautions and lifespan of the detector.
- Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.
What should I do if I suspect carbon monoxide poisoning?
- Get into fresh air immediately.
- Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
- Go to the doctor right away if anyone has any symptoms of CO inhalation, is pregnant or has heart issues.
- If you suspect a faulty appliance is letting out large amounts of carbon monoxide, call your local fire department or gas company for assistance in testing the air for CO.
- Do not re-enter the building until the fire department or gas company says it is safe.