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Carbon Monoxide Precautions

Be aware of the potential danger

Carbon monoxide (CO) is odorless, colorless and tasteless, yet it is a very toxic gas. In high concentrations CO can kill! Know the signs, symptoms and precautions to take to keep your family, employees or workers safe.

Whether your home or facility is heated with oil, natural gas, propane, coal or wood, your heating system can produce CO if it is not working properly or is inadequately vented. CO is also produced from internal combustion devices and small gasoline engines.

Stuffy, stale or smelly air, very high humidity or soot coming from a fireplace or heating system are indications of the presence of CO in the air.

High concentrations of CO can lead to unconsciousness, brain damage or death. However, a victim may not experience ANY of these symptoms. You should suspect the presence of CO if symptoms tend to disappear when you leave your home or building.

Consider this: The symptoms of CO poisoning are often confused with those of the flu - with the highest incidence of poisoning occurring during flu season.

Symptoms include:  

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • mental confusion
  • shortness of breath
  • weakness
  • vision problems
  • loss of muscle control
  • Alert your family, employees or workers and exit the area immediately
  • Open windows and doors on your way out if you are able to do so
  • Contact the fire department and report the suspected CO leak
  • Call your fuel supplier or a licensed heating contractor for an emergency inspection
  • If CO is detected, seek medical attention immediately

Have your heating system "tuned up" before the heating season begins to ensure that it is in proper working order. Maintenance and servicing should always be done by a licensed heating contractor, your gas company or by your fuel supplier.  Also, have your chimney or vent pipes checked for blockage. If a blockage exists, you should contact a professional chimney sweep immediately.