Carbon Monoxide Tips

What you should do to keep your home safe from the harmful gas you can’t smell.

What is carbon monoxide (CO) and how is it produced in the home?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of solid, liquid, and gaseous fuels. Appliances fueled with natural gas, liquified petroleum (LP gas), oil, kerosene, coal, or wood may produce CO. Burning charcoal produces CO.

How many people are unintentionally poisoned by CO?
Every year, over 200 people in the United States die from CO produced by fuel-burning appliances (furnaces, ranges, water heaters, room heaters).

What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
Symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include: Headache, Fatigue, Shortness of breath, Nausea, Dizziness. Many people with CO poisoning mistake their symptoms for the flu.

What CO level is dangerous to your health?
The health effects of CO depend on the level of CO and length of exposure, as well as each individual's health condition.

What should you do if you are experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning?
If you think you are experiencing any of the symptoms of CO poisoning, get fresh air immediately. Turn off any combustion appliances, and leave the house. Call your fire department and report your symptoms. You could lose consciousness and die if you do nothing. Contact a doctor immediately for a proper diagnosis. Prompt medical attention is important if you are experiencing any symptoms of CO poisoning when you are operating fuel-burning appliances. Before turning your fuel-burning appliances back on, make sure a qualified serviceperson checks them for malfunction.

What should you do when the CO detector/alarm sounds?
Never ignore an alarming CO detector/alarm. If the detector/alarm sounds: Operate the reset button. Call your emergency services (fire department or 911). Immediately move to fresh air -- outdoors or by an open door/window.


  • Install a CO detector/alarm that meets the requirements of the current UL standard 2034 or the requirements of the IAS 6-96 standard.
  • A carbon monoxide detector/alarm can provide added protection, but is no substitute for proper use and upkeep of appliances that can produce CO.
  • Install a CO detector/alarm in the hallway near every separate sleeping area of the home.
  • Make sure the detector cannot be covered up by furniture or draperies. Never service fuel-burning appliances without proper knowledge, skills, and tools.
  • Always refer to the owner's manual when performing minor adjustments or servicing fuel-burning appliances.
  • Never operate unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room with closed doors or windows or in any room where people are sleeping.
  • Do not use gasoline-powered tools and engines indoors. If use is unavoidable, ensure that adequate ventilation is available and whenever possible place engine unit to exhaust outdoors.

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772, or visit CPSC's web site at:

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