Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Sounding The Alarm On A Silent Killer

The most important thing to know about carbon monoxide is that you cannot see, smell or taste it. Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen from faulty furnaces, space and water heaters, clothes dryers, and cars left running in garages. Breathing in too much can make you sick, and even kill you within minutes.


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    • Install a carbon monoxide alarm on every level in your home, and near sleeping areas. Place them at least 15 feet away from any fuel-burning appliances, like stoves and water heaters. 
    • The detector’s batteries should be checked at least two times each year, at the same time smoke detector batteries are checked. As a handy reminder, you can do this at the beginning and end of Daylight saving time each year. 
    • It is best to have carbon monoxide alarms that are interconnected. This way, when one sounds, they all sound. 
    • Replace the batteries in each carbon monoxide detector every year, or when the battery is low. Most carbon monoxide detectors will alert you when the battery is low by chirping. 
    • Carbon monoxide alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms and vice versa. For more information on smoke alarms, go here. 

    • While everyone is at risk, a child’s body reacts faster and more severely to carbon monoxide. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to a virus or the flu. Symptoms include unexplained headache, nausea, muscle aches, vomiting and fatigue. These can all quickly turn into confusion, chest pain, heart attacks and loss of consciousness. 
    • If the alarm sounds, or if you or anyone in your home is experiencing symptoms, treat it like there is a fire. Quickly get everyone outside of the house. 
    • Once outside, call 911. First responders will test and clear your home, and determine if a hospital visit is needed for anyone in the home. 
    • DO NOT go back into the house until you have been told it’s safe. Once given the all-clear, have your fuel-burning appliances inspected.

    • Your oven or stovetop should not be used to heat your home. 
    • Always use grills, generators and camping stoves outside of your home or garage, and away from open windows. 
    • Make a yearly appointment to have fuel-burning appliances, like your furnace or fireplace, inspected by certified technicians. 
    • Never leave a car or motorcycle running in the garage—even if you keep the door open. 
    • Outside of your home, clear all debris and snow, so it doesn’t block the vents from your dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace.

Did You Know?

Illustration of a bed with a cloud over it, displaying the number 400.

More than 400 children and adults die every year from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning not linked to fires.