Protect Yourself Against Carbon Monoxide
Learn how to ward off the poisonous gas.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly two-thirds of carbon monoxide deaths unrelated to fire occur from November to February. Cranking the heat could be the culprit.
Learn how to recognize carbon monoxide in your home — even if you’ve installed a carbon monoxide detector — to help keep you and your family safe.
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas produced when something burns. It can poison you by depriving your vital organs of oxygen. Furnaces, space heaters, cars, and other gas- or kerosene-burning appliances can be common CO-producing items.
How to Spot Carbon Monoxide
Watch for these indicators that carbon monoxide levels may be rising in your home.
- Physical Symptoms: Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms can mimic the flu. If symptoms weaken outside the home, your house could have elevated carbon monoxide levels. Watch out for the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Around the House: Check for these telltale signs:
- Damaged or loose parts on your furnace or chimney
- Increasing amounts of soot or debris around your furnace or in your chimney
- Moisture inside your windows
- Rust on your vents or chimney
- Orange or yellow pilot lights (instead of blue) from your gas appliances
When to Take Action
If you notice any of the above signs of carbon monoxide in your home — or if your carbon monoxide alarm goes off — get everyone outside. From there follow these steps:
- Call 911.
- Double-check that everyone at home is with you.
- Wait to go back inside until the authorities evaluate and approve. If they discover a leak from an appliance, get it serviced as soon as possible.
Help Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
One of the easiest steps you can take against carbon monoxide poisoning is to install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors. Replace each detector every five years, and replace the batteries each year.