Carbon Monoxide Fact Sheet

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide is a highly toxic gas found in automobile exhaust and where heating equipment venting problems exist. CO is a colorless, odorless (but sometimes it combines with other gases that have sharp odors) and tasteless gas - it’s very hard to detect!

Causes

Malfunctioning heating equipment, blocked chimneys due to fallen leaves, birds nests, fossil fuel buildup, enclosed heating equipment with limited ventilation, indoor use of barbecue grills, use of cooking appliances for heating purposes, sitting inside a motionless vehicle for prolonged period of time with the motor running, repairing engines (lawnmowers, snowblowers, vehicles, etc.) without proper ventilation can all be causes of CO.

Precautions

Check your chimney / furnace every fall for blockage, have your chimney cleaned annually, if your home undergoes any major renovation, if you heavily insulate or if you enclose heating equipment to gain additional living space: check to see if extra ventilation is needed, have heating appliances checked for malfunction, have your vehicle’s muffler and tailpipe inspected regularly for carbon monoxide leaks, periodically check your burner for a hot draft backing out.

Danger Signs

Stuffy, stale or smelly air, very high humidity, fallen soot from the fireplace or furnace, no draft in your chimney or a hot drafty backing out may be signs of CO danger.

Take Action

If you encounter danger signs – open windows and doors, evacuate everyone immediately, and from a neighbors house call 9-1-1.

CO Poisoning Symptoms*

Headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting or loss of muscle control, tightening of the chest, convulsions, redness of the eyes, sleepiness, fluttering of the heart, confusion, ringing in the ears, prolonged exposure can lead to unconsciousness, brain damage or death!

* Victims may experience one, some or all of these symptoms.

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