Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas produced whenever organic or carbon-containing substances burn.
When fuel-burning devices are improperly used, poorly vented or malfunction, they can fill the air in an enclosed space with deadly gases. A person breathing this air can be overcome before any symptoms are noticed.
Here are recommendations from the Environmental Protection Agency, Indoors Environ Division.
- Have any fuel-burning appliance, including oil and gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas ranges and ovens, gas dryers, gas or kerosene heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves inspected by a trained professional at the beginning of every heating season. Make certain that the flues and chimneys are connected, in good condition and not blocked.
- Choose appliances that vent their fumes to the outside whenever possible, have them properly installed and maintain them according to manufacturers' instructions.
- Don't idle the car in a garage, even if the garage door to the outside is open. Fumes can build up very quickly in both the garage and living area of your home.
- Don't use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.
- Don't ever use a charcoal grill indoors, even in a fireplace.
- Don't sleep in any room with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater.
- Don't use any gasoline-powered engines (mowers, weed trimmers, snow blowers, chain saws or generators) in enclosed spaces.
- Don't ignore symptoms, particularly if more than one person is feeling them. You could lose consciousness and die if you do nothing. Symptoms can include headaches, nausea, weakness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, confusion, impaired vision and lack of coordination and shortness of breath.
If you have a poisoning emergency, immediately call 911.