Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced when you burn fuel - and it can kill you. There are several ways you can unintentionally release CO into your home, which can build up and poison people and animals who breathe it.
The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are often described as “flu-like” (headache, dizziness, nausea). In many cases, the symptoms are easily confused with other illnesses or they’re subtle enough to go unnoticed, particularly if you’re sleeping or have been drinking. This is why CO alarms are so important and should be installed in addition to the smoke alarms in your home. CO is slightly lighter than air so it’s best to install them up high on the wall or even on the ceiling. Avoid placing them right by a fireplace or a flame-producing appliance as you may get some false alarms.
Sources of CO leaks in your home can include your chimney or a gas range. Both should be regularly cleaned and professionally serviced. CO could also come from running a generator, which you should NEVER run inside your home or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent. You should also never run a vehicle in your garage. You may have seen news stories already this year about people trying to stay warm by running cars in their garage or using their ovens to heat their home. The result is deadly.
If your CO alarm goes off or if you start to experience flu-like symptoms out of nowhere, exit your house immediately to get some fresh air and call 911. The fire department will respond to determine what’s going on.