CO poisoning is a lower risk when appliances are kept in good working condition. However, improperly operating appliances can result in fatal CO poisoning. Using charcoal indoors or running a car in an attached garage can also cause deadly CO poisoning in your home.

CONTENTS
CO - What are the symptoms?

Carbon monoxide (CO) clues you can see
Carbon monoxide (CO) clues you cannot see
CO - Facts
Other Facts
CO Prevention
Important Tips

 

 

 

HOME SAFETY SPOTLIGHT

CO - What is it?

Carbon monoxide, also known as "CO", is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of solid, liquid and gaseous fuel. Therefore, any fuel-burning appliance in your home is a potential CO source.

When appliances are kept in good working condition, they produce little CO. Improperly operating appliances can produce fatal CO concentrations in your home. In addition, using charcoal indoors or running a car in an attached garage can also cause deadly CO poisoning in your home.

CO - What are the symptoms?

The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

Many people with CO poisoning mistake their symptoms for the flu or are misdiagnosed by physicians, which sometimes results in tragic deaths.

Carbon monoxide (CO) clues you can see:

  • Rusting or water streaking on vent/chimney
  • Loose or missing furnace panel
  • Sooting
  • Loose or disconnected vent/chimney connections
  • Debris or soot falling from chimney, fireplace or appliance
  • Loose masonry on chimney
  • Moisture inside of windows

Carbon monoxide (CO) clues you cannot see:

  • Internal appliance damage or malfunctioning components
  • Improper burner adjustment
  • Hidden blockage or damage in chimneys

Only a trained service technician can detect hidden problems and correct these conditions!

CO - Facts

  • Every year, over 200 people in the United States die from CO produced by fuel-burning appliances (furnaces, ranges, water heaters, room heaters).  (A more rec
  •  
  • ent review claims CO as the leading cause of more than 15,000 accidental poisoning deaths in the United States each year and another 10,000 injuries according to the Carbon Monoxide Medical Association)
  • Others die from CO produced while burning charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent.
  • Still others die from CO produced by cars left running in attached garages.
  • Several thousand people go to hospital emergency rooms for treatment for CO poisoning.

Other Facts:

  • On September 15, 1993, Chicago, Illinois became one of the first cities in the nation to adopt an ordinance requiring, effective October 1, 1994, the installation of CO detectors/alarms in all new single-family homes and in existing single-family residences that have new oil or gas furnaces. Several other cities also require CO detectors/alarms in apartment buildings and single-family dwellings.
  • CPSC recommends that every home have a CO detector/alarm that meets the requirements of the current UL standard 2034 in the hallway near every separate sleeping area. CPSC also works with industry to develop voluntary and mandatory standards for fuel-burning appliances.
  • CO detectors/alarms are available for boats and recreational vehicles and should be used. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association requires CO detectors/alarms in motor homes and in tow-able recreational vehicles that have a generator or are prepped for a generator.

CO Prevention:

  • Make sure appliances are installed according to manufacturer's instructions and local building codes. Most appliances should be installed by professionals. Have the heating system (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually. The inspector should also check chimneys and flues for blockages, corrosion, partial and complete disconnections, and loose connections.
  • Install a CO detector/alarm that meets the requirements of the current UL standard 2034 (ANSI/UL 2034-02) or the requirements of the IAS 6-96 standard. A carbon monoxide detector/alarm can provide added protection, but is no substitute for proper use and upkeep of appliances that can produce CO. Install a CO detector/alarm in the hallway near every separate sleeping area of the home. Make sure the detector cannot be covered up by furniture or draperies.

Important Tips:

  • Never burn charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent.
  • Never use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent.
  • Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.
  • Never service fuel-burning appliances without proper knowledge, skills, and tools. Always refer to the owner's manual when performing minor adjustments or servicing fuel-burning appliances.
  • Never use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens, or clothes dryers for heating your home.
  • Never operate un-vented fuel-burning appliances in any room with closed doors or windows or in any room where people are sleeping.
  • Do not use gasoline-powered tools and engines indoors. If use is unavoidable, ensure that adequate ventilation is available and whenever possible place engine unit to exhaust outdoors.

 

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Office of Information and Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20207

 

The information provided on this page is based upon the CPSC, current scientific and technical understanding of the issues presented. Following the advice given will not necessarily provide complete protection in all situations or against all health hazards that may be caused by indoor air pollution and other indoor environmental contaminants. The CPSC have not reviewed or approved all the information and documents on indoor air quality that may be provided by other groups or organizations.

 
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