Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless, tasteless gas which can lead to illness and potentially death.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hundreds of people in the U.S. die from CO poisoning each year, and thousands more are sickened. 

Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when CO builds up in your bloodstream.  When too much carbon monoxide is in the air, your body replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with carbon monoxide.  Improperly ventilated appliances and engines may allow carbon monoxide to accumulate to dangerous levels when CO is produced by burning gasoline, wood, propane, charcoal or other fuel. 

Here are some tips about Carbon Monoxide Protection from the Consumer Product Safety Commission to protect yourself and your family.

  • Make sure you have CO alarms, and that they workYou should have a CO alarm on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas.  Be sure to test them and replace batteries regularly.  Hint, we always recommend changing your batteries at the same time you change the batteries in your smoke detectors – when you change the clocks.
  • Get your furnace and chimney checkedA furnace or chimney that isn’t functioning properly can lead to CO buildup inside your home.  Have a professional examination or annual service before you begin using them.
  • Be cautious with generators and grillsNeither should ever be used inside your home or in an enclosed space, such as a garage.  Even semi-enclosed spaces like porches can be a risk, also.  Keep generators at least 20 feet away from the house when in operation.

Common symptoms of CO exposure include: dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, nausea or vomiting, and confusion.  You may also experience blurred vision, shortness of breath, or weakness.  CO exposure can result in loss of consciousness, and can be particularly dangerous for people who are sleeping or intoxicated. 

The warning signs can be subtle, but the condition is a life-threatening medical emergency.  If you think you may have carbon monoxide poisoning exit the home and seek fresh air immediately.  If you suspect an issue call 911.