Carbon Monoxide

Nicknamed “The Silent Killer”, Carbon Monoxide is Totally Undetectable by Human Senses

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and toxic gas. Nicknamed “the silent killer”, carbon monoxide is totally undetectable by human senses. Hundreds of people are killed in their home each year by accidental carbon monoxide poisoning and thousands are permanently injured.

Since carbon monoxide is a by-product of incomplete combustion, any fuel-burning appliance, vehicle or tool that is inadequately vented or maintained can be a potential source of carbon monoxide gas.

Examples of fuel- burning equipment include:

Fuel fired furnaces

  • Gas fueled space heaters*
  • Gas ranges and ovens
  • Gas clothes dryers
  • Charcoal grills
  • Gas water heaters
  • Wood burning fireplaces and stoves
  • Gas fireplaces, both vented and ventless
  • Gas lawnmowers and power tools
  • Automobiles

Why is Carbon Monoxide dangerous?

If there is carbon monoxide in the air you breathe, it will enter your blood system the same way oxygen does, through your lungs. The carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in your blood, depriving your body of oxygen. When the carbon monoxide displaces enough oxygen, you suffocate.

What are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Long-term exposure to low concentrations of carbon monoxide can gradually build up in the blood causing flu-like symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, nausea and drowsiness.

Since the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are so common, and often misdiagnosed, carbon monoxide poisoning should be suspected if more than one member of the family feels ill and if they recover after being away from the home for a period of time. Also, illness in your pets preceding illness in a family member may suggest carbon monoxide poisoning.

Exposure to high concentrations of carbon monoxide will cause throbbing headaches, breathing difficulties, confusion and loss of consciousness, cardiac problems and/or death.

The first line of defense is prevention!

  • Have your home-heating systems, fuel-burning appliances, flues and chimneys inspected, cleaned and tuned up annually by a qualified technician.
  • Make regular visual inspections of fuel-burning appliances such as your gas dryer and hot water heater.
  • Do not burn charcoal inside a home, cabin or camper.
  • Do not operate gasoline-powered engines (generators, cutting saws) in confined areas such as garages or basements.
  • Do not idle your car inside the garage.
  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the gas dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
  • Never use gas ovens and ranges to heat your home!

The second line of defense is a Carbon Monoxide alarm!