Carbon monoxide (referred to sometimes as CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if inhaled.
Carbon monoxide is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by cars and trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, and gas ranges and heating systems. Carbon monoxide from these sources can build up in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned by breathing CO.
The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. High levels of carbon monoxide inhalation can cause loss of consciousness and even death.
All people and animals are at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Certain groups—unborn babies, infants, and people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems—are more susceptible. Each year, more than 500 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, and more than 2,000 commit suicide by intentional carbon monoxide poisoning.
Never use generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, basement, garage, or camper or even outside near an open window. Never allow your car to idle within a closed garage.
Have at least one working carbon monoxide detector in your home. Check the detector’s batteries twice each year, at the same time you check smoke detector batteries.