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Carbon monoxide is one of the leading causes of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. Keep yourself and your family safe by learning about the dangers of carbon monoxide, ways to reduce your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, and what to do if you or a loved one experience symptoms of poisoning. 

Sources of Carbon Monoxide

  • Carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible gas that can come from any fuel-burning appliance that is inadequately vented, poorly maintained, worn or improperly adjusted.
  • It can also come from inside use of fuel-burning devices — such as grills and unvented kerosene or propane space heaters — that are not designed to be used indoors.
  • Poorly maintained or blocked chimneys can also be a source of carbon monoxide.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Exposure to carbon monoxide can cause a range of symptoms.
  • At lower exposures, symptoms can range from mild headaches, fatigue or sleepiness, shortness of breath, light headedness and nausea.
  • Exposure at a higher level can lead to mental confusion, impaired judgment or memory, loss of coordination, loss of consciousness and even death.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Make sure all fuel-burning appliances in your home are installed professionally and maintained properly. Have your furnace and other gas appliances, as well as chimneys and vents, inspected and serviced by a trained service technician every year. Just before winter is the best time.
  • Install and maintain a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to go off when carbon monoxide levels begin to rise but before you begin to experience symptoms. Test your carbon monoxide detector monthly and replace the batteries at least twice annually. 
  • Never use a charcoal or outdoor gas grill inside your home, tent, vehicle or garage, even with the door opened.
  • Never run a generator in the home, garage or crawlspace.
  • Never heat your home using a gas oven, range or clothes dryer.
  • Never warm up the car or leave the engine running while parked in the garage, even with the garage door open.
  • Never put foil on the bottom of a gas oven because it interferes with combustion.
  • When using a gas or wood-burning fireplace, open the flue to make sure it is safely ventilated.
  • Keep vents clear and make sure they are not blocked by debris, snow or animal nests.

Additional Resources

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