Carbon Monoxide - Know the Hazards

Tips on proper maintenance and operation of dangerous carbon monoxide producers to help you avoid illness and death

  1. Never run generators in indoor spaces, such as garages, basements, porches, crawlspaces or sheds, or in partly-enclosed spaces such as carports or breezeways. Generators should only be operated outside, far away from and downwind of buildings.
  2. Never use a gas range or oven for warmth. Using a gas range or oven for warmth can cause a buildup of toxic carbon monoxide (CO) inside your home, cabin, or camper.
  3. Never use a charcoal grill or a barbecue grill in your home or garage. Using a grill indoors will cause a buildup of toxic CO.
  4. Never start up or run any gasoline-powered engines (mowers, weed trimmers, snow blowers, chain saws, generators or other small motors) in enclosed spaces.
  5. Never use a stove or fireplace unless it is properly installed and vented. Annually, have it inspected and have oil and gas heat and hot water systems serviced.
  6. Never run your car or truck or motorcycle inside a garage that is attached to a house or in a detached garage with the garage door shut; open the door to remove CO and other toxic gases in the exhaust.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that can kill you in minutes. It is invisible, tasteless, odorless and non-irritating. It is produced from burning fuels such as wood, oil, natural gas, propane, gasoline and kerosene.

Symptoms of CO poisoning

CO is known as the "silent killer". It can prevent the body from getting oxygen. Symptoms can be flu-like: nausea, headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, sleepiness, weakness. In large amounts, CO can cause loss of consciousness, brain damage or death.

Do you suspect CO poisoning?

  • Open all windows and doors.
  • Get Out of the building and into the fresh air.
  • Call the fire department from outside the building.
  • Call the gas company from outside the building.
  • Call 911 if you or someone else is experiencing symptoms, or take the ill person to the emergency room. Tell the physician you suspect CO poisoning.

Have Emergency Phone Numbers Ready

Fire Department:

Gas Company:

Health Care Provider:

CO Detectors

  • Install a CO detector which is battery-powered or has a battery back-up, and is certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Carefully follow manufacturers' installation, use, maintenance and replacement instructions.
  • Check the CO detector batteries twice a year.
  • If the alarm sounds, get out of the building.
  • Don't let having a CO detector lull you info a false sense of security. Preventing the problem is better than relying on an alarm.
  • When were the batteries last replaced?