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Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, tasteless, and odorless gas. Every year, hundreds of people in the United States die of CO poisoning.

CO is generated from combustion appliances – those that use fuel – such as gas, oil, kerosene, charcoal, or wood to produce heat. Some of these appliances in the home include: gas furnaces, hot water tanks, ovens, dryers, wood burning fireplaces, grills (both gas & charcoal), vehicles, and gas-powered yard equipment. Tobacco smoke also produces deadly carbon monoxide.


The number of CO poisoning cases often rises during the winter months when people who are experiencing power outages caused by bad weather turn to other sources of heat, such as portable generators or fuel-burning stoves or heaters. One generator can produce as much CO as hundreds of cars and can incapacitate and kill a person in only a few minutes. Generators should only be used outdoors and away from any window, doors or vents.

Signs of low level CO poisoning can resemble those associated with the flu, like headache, nausea, tiredness, weakness, & dizziness. Continued exposure to even low levels of CO can cause brain damage and heart problems. High levels can cause loss of consciousness, coma, and death.

If you feel that you are having any of these symptoms, get fresh air immediately! Open doors and windows, turn off combustion applicances and leave the house.

  • DON’T leave your car idling in the garage (even with the door open)
  • DON’T use gas-powered equipment or grills indoors or in any other enclosed spaces
  • DON’T use your gas oven to heat your home

Installing a CO detector in the home is very important for your safety. You should also remember to have your furnace and other heating applicances checked at the beginning of every winter season to ensure proper functioning and venting of all combustion gas.


CDC – Frequently Asked Questions about Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

US EPA – Carbon Monoxide Poisoning