Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas. You cannot see or smell carbon monoxide. This invisible gas can build up indoors and cause sudden illness or death for people and pets who breathe it.

Burning fuel creates carbon monoxide.

This includes charcoal, gasoline engines, unvented kerosene heaters, propane heaters, tobacco smoke, fireplaces, woodstoves, natural gas appliances and gasoline powered generators.

Health effects

Symptoms might include:

  • Headache.
  • Tiredness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea.
  • Weakness.
  • Confusion.
  • Pets acting strangely.
  • Very high levels of carbon monoxide cause loss of consciousness and even death.

Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning

Every home should have a battery-powered carbon monoxide alarm.

  • If your carbon monoxide alarm goes off or you notice symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, leave your home immediately.
  • Call 9-1-1 from outside. If you live in an apartment, alert your neighbors, but don't go into their apartment. Carbon monoxide can move between apartments.

If you use a generator, follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully and:

  • Secure your generator to prevent theft.
  • Have a battery operated carbon monoxide alarm.
  • Keep generators at least 20 feet away from buildings. Air flow patterns can still blow carbon monoxide into homes through attic vents, windows, or doors, so it’s important to have a working carbon monoxide detector inside the home.
    • Don't put a generator in a garage, even with the door open.
    • Don't put a generator near any window, including your neighbors.

 Get tips on using a generator during a power outage.

If you use a charcoal or gas grill to cook:

  • Don't bring the grill or stove inside or in the garage.
  • Don't use near an open door or window.

If you use a fireplace or woodstove:

  • Keep flues and vents clear of debris that could create a fire hazard.
  • Get a professional inspection of fireplace or woodstoves every year.

If you use appliances on natural gas or oil:

  • Have your gas or oil furnace, stove, dryer and water heater serviced by a professional once a year.
  • Make sure appliances are vented to the outside.
  • Call a certified technician if the tip of your gas stove burner flame is yellow or orange instead of blue.

If you have an attached garage:

  • Never run a car or gas powered engine in a garage.