Carbon monoxide is called “the silent killer” for good reason. You can’t see it. You can’t smell it. You can’t taste it. Yet on average, about 170 people in the U.S die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year. Tragically, babies, children, and the elderly are the most susceptible.

The EPA offers this advice:

“Know the symptoms of CO poisoning. At moderate levels, you or your family can get severe headaches, become dizzy, mentally confused, nauseated, or faint. You can even die if these levels persist for a long time. Low levels can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea, and mild headaches, and may have longer term effects on your health. Since many of these symptoms are similar to those of the flu, food poisoning, or other illnesses, you may not think that CO poisoning could be the cause.”

(http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/coftsht.html)

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has an excellent section on Carbon Monoxide questions and answers:

http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/466.html

Finally, the Center for Disease Control offers these potentially life-saving tips:

  • Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
  • Do seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.
  • Don’t use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.
  • Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
  • Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.

(http://www.cdc.gov/co/guidelines.htm)