About Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas. It cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, and can be fatal when high levels are breathed. Symptoms of carbon monoxide are similar to those of the flu and allergies. Carbon monoxide poisoning may also be misdiagnosed as migraine headache, stroke, food poisoning or heart disease. Over 500 people in the United States die from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning each year. CO poisoning more seriously affects infants, people with lung or heart disease, or people with anemia. The following information will help you better understand the ways you can protect your family from dangers associated with carbon monoxide.

Where does carbon monoxide poisoning come from?

  • Fuel-burning machinery used indoors such as generators without proper ventilation.
  • Car exhaust fumes entering the house from the garage.
  • Combustion equipment such as furnaces or water heaters when not working properly or that have a blocked exhaust system.

What can you do?

Carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable. The following tips and pointers can help keep your family safe:

  • Never run your car in a closed garage.
  • Make sure fuel burning appliances are installed by a professional and that they are working properly.
  • Choose vented appliances when possible.
  • Never use a gas range or oven to heat your home.
  • Have your heating system and chimneys inspected each year.
  • During winter months check frequently that vents, flues and chimneys are not blocked by snow or ice.
  • Replace dirty air filters on heating and cooling systems.
  • Never run a generator, power washer, or any diesel or gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage or other enclosed structure.
  • Keep your home well ventilated - Install ventilation for indoor combustion appliances and consider installing air exchanges or air conditioning if your home is tightly sealed.
  • Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, or camping lantern or portable stove inside your home, tent or camper.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms.
  • Talk to your doctor or local health department if you suspect that you, or a family member, might be suffering from carbon monoxide fumes.
  • Call your local building or code enforcement agency if you have concerns about the combustion appliances in your home.