Carbon monoxide (CO) is tasteless, odorless and dangerous to humans. When CO is inhaled, it disrupts the transportation of oxygen throughout the body and causes asphyxiation. Symptoms of CO poisoning can include: burning eyes, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, confusion, shortness of breath, increased episodes of angina in people with coronary disease and unconsciousness.
Some visible indications of the presence of carbon monoxide are: black soot around air registers, moisture inside windows, dead or dying houseplants or pets and abnormal-looking flames on appliances or burners.
You can protect your household from carbon monoxide by following a few simple steps.
What should I do if my CO detector is sounding or I suspect carbon monoxide in my home?
- Purchase and install a UL-rated residential carbon monoxide detector. Detectors can be purchased at hardware stores, and many can be plugged into an ordinary outlet.
- Never operate your car or other gas-powered engines in a confined or enclosed space, such as a garage, because the car exhaust can leak into the house, even if the garage door is left open.
- Before each heating season, have your heating system and appliance vents and ducts checked by a qualified heating and ventilation service contractor.
- Check your chimney to make sure it is not blocked by dirt or bird nests. Replace rusted vent pipes.
- When using an approved unvented space heater for supplementary heat, open a window an inch or more as stated in the space heater operating instructions.
- Contact the Illinois Poison Control Center at 800.942.5969 or the Missouri Regional Poison Center at 800.366.8888.
- Ventilate the structure by opening windows and doors, then leave the premise.