Carbon Monoxide FAQs

  1. What is carbon monoxide (CO)?
    A colorless, odorless toxic gas that is flammable and can kill you
  2. What are symptoms of CO poisoning?
    Sleepiness, headaches, weakness, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea/vomiting, chest pains and flu-like symptoms
  3. What are common sources of CO around my home?
    • Furnaces and other gas appliances, such as your gas clothes dryer and water heater
    • Wood- or charcoal-burning stoves and grills
    • Gas- or wood-burning fireplaces
    • Vehicle exhaust and gas-powered engines (lawn mowers, snow blowers, etc.)
    • Kerosene heaters, lanterns, and other appliances
  4. How do I prevent CO poisoning in my home?
    • Install battery-operated, or battery back-up CO detectors in your home where it will be heard, such as outside of each bedroom and at least one on every level. (Consider buying detectors with a digital readout that tells you your current CO levels in your home.)
    • Replace the batteries in your alarms once a year and replace the detectors every five years.
    • Have your gas and/or coal-burning appliances (furnace, dryer, water heater, etc.) serviced by a qualified technician every year.
    • Do not use flameless, portable chemical heaters indoors.
    • Ensure your gas appliances are vented properly.
    • Have your chimney checked and cleaned every year.
    • Never patch a vent pipe with tape or gum.
    • Never use your gas range or oven to heat your home, cabin, or camper.
    • Never burn charcoal indoors.
    • Never use a portable gas camp stove indoors.
    • Never use a generator inside your home, basement, garage, or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent.
    • When using a generator, make sure you have a working battery-powered CO detector in your home, cabin, or camper.
  5. What should I do when my CO detector goes off?
    • Check to see if anyone is showing signs of CO poisoning. If they are, get the person outside immediately and call 9-1-1.
    • If there are no immediate health issues, call your utility company or an appliance repair service.
    • Open windows.
    • Check to see if your CO detector has failed (needs new batteries, etc.).

Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention []