Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that kills without warning. Many household items produce this poison gas.

Household Sources of CO

There are many sources of CO in and around your home, including portable generators, power equipment, household appliances, charcoal and gas barbecue grills, lawn equipment, wood stoves, fireplaces, gas and oil-burning furnaces, and automobiles.

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

CO poisoning can cause symptoms of headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, loss of muscle control, shortness of breath, chest tightness, visual changes, sleepiness, fluttering of the heart, skin redness, confusion and slowed reaction time. At high levels, or continued exposure, CO can cause suffocation, loss of consciousness, brain damage, or death.

Prevention Steps

You can prevent carbon monoxide exposure. Following these important steps can keep your family safe:

  • Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
  • Do seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated.
  • Don't use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.
  • Don't run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
  • Don't burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn't vented.
  • Don't heat your house with a gas oven.


Last reviewed April 28, 2023