Carbon Monoxide

What is Carbon Monoxide?  Carbon Monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that comes from burning fossil fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, propane, oil and methane.  When these fuels burn incompletely, CO is produced.  Home heating and cooking appliances can produce CO if damaged or misused.  Vehicles such as cars, trucks, tractors and lawn mowers are also a source of CO.  Any motor allowed to run indoors can produce dangerous levels of CO.


Effects of CO Exposure to People.  Carbon Monoxide replaces the oxygen that is in your bloodstream; this can lead to suffocation.  Flu-like symptoms are an early indication of mild CO poisoning.  More serious exposure can lead to difficulty breathing and eventually death.  Those most at risk for poisoning are the very young (4 years or younger) and the very old (75 and older).

Protecting your Family from CO.  The following is a list of safety tips:

Do not run motors indoors; even if garage doors are open.

Have your vehicles inspected for exhaust leaks.

Inspect and repair chimneys, fireplaces, wood stoves, etc. each year before cold weather sets in.

Be sure your heating equipment has an adequate supply of fresh air for combustion.

Open the flue when using the fireplace to insure adequate ventiliation.

Always refuel kerosene heaters outdoors after heater has cooled sufficiently.  Kerosene heaters are illegal in many states.  Before buying or using one, check with authorities to be sure it is legal.

Gas barbecue grills can produce CO.  Never us them indoors or in the garage; even if the garage doors are opened.

When camping, use battery-powered heaters and lights in tents, trailers and mobile homes.

CO detectors are required in all recreational vehicles.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors.  Carbon Monoxide detectors measure the amount of CO gas that has accumulated.  It is important to treat all alarms as serious and have the cause determined to be sure your home is safe.  When buying a CO detector, buy only units that have been tested by qualified testing laboratories.  Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation and use of your CO detector in your home.  Test your CO detector once a month along with your smoke detectors. Replace your CO detector every two years, or as recommended by the manufacturer.  Plan and practice a home evacuation plan with all members of the family in case of any emergency.

What should I do if my CO detector alarm goes off? 

Make sure no one is experiencing any signs of CO poisoning.

If symptoms of CO poisoning are present, every one should exit the building leaving the doors open as you go.


Use a neighbor's telephone to report the alarm and follow the instructions you are given.

If symptoms of CO poisoning are not present, open windows and doors, shut down heating and cooking equipment.

Call a qualified technician to inspect and service your equipment.

Be on the look out for symptoms of CO poisoning.