Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

carbon monoxide poisoning sign

Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning while more than 20,000 visit the emergency room and 4,000 are hospitalized. Carbon monoxide or “CO” is a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly if inhaled. This gas is produced any time a fuel is burned.  For example, it can come from vehicles, small engines, stoves, furnaces, or fireplaces. Carbon monoxide can build up to dangerous levels in enclosed areas and poison the people and animals that breathe it in.

Common symptoms of CO poisoning are often similar to “flu-like” symptoms for example, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. Breathing in large amounts of carbon monoxide can lead to loss of consciousness or even death. If a carbon monoxide leak breaks out while one is sleeping, it has the potential to kill before one notices symptoms.

Additionally, everyone is at risk for CO poisoning. Infants, the elderly, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or breathing problems are most likely to get sick. Depending on the degree and length of exposure, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause permanent brain damage, damage to the heart, miscarriage, or death.

To help prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning at home:

  • Install a battery-operated CO detector in your home
  • Consider having a qualified DLE technician check your propane system appliances and venting systems annually
  • Unless they are specifically designed to do so, never use portable gas-powered heaters indoors
  • Make sure propane appliances are vented properly
  • Never use an oven or range for heating
  • Never use an outdoor barbecue grill indoors for cooking or heating
  • Have chimneys checked or cleaned yearly
  • Never leave a vehicle running in an enclosed or partially closed garage

If you suspect Carbon Monoxide is present, go outside immediately and call emergency services.


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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