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Carbon Monoxide (CO) Safety

Protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning.

CO is the number one cause of poisoning deaths in the U.S. Hundreds of people die accidentally each year from CO poisoning caused by malfunctioning or improperly used fuel-burning appliances. Learn to protect your family from CO. Carbon monoxide gas is produced whenever any fuel (gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal) is burned.

Knowing the signs of CO poisoning can keep your family safe

Carbon monoxide is poisonous, odorless, colorless, and tasteless.

Exposure to carbon monoxide can produce headache, nausea, dizziness, confusion, fainting, unconsciousness, and death. CO poisoning can also mimic flu symptoms.

If you suspect CO exposure: 

  • Get out of the house or car and get fresh air.
  • Call the fire department from a cell phone or a neighbor’s house.
  • If you have symptoms, seek medical help immediately.

Additional Resources for Knowing the signs of CO poisoning can keep your family safe

Sources of CO

Heating is the leading cause of CO in homes. Here are other sources of CO:

  • Furnaces and water heaters
  • Chimneys and woodstoves
  • Gas and oil fueled space heaters
  • Blocked furnace and dryer vents
  • Car tailpipes blocked by snow
  • Generators
  • Running vehicles
  • Barbeque grills and camping stoves
  • Gas ovens used for heat
  • Gas tools such as snow removal and yard equipment

Additional Resources for Sources of CO

CO appliance safety

If appliances that burn fuel are properly maintained and used, the amount of CO produced is usually not hazardous. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions that come with fuel-burning devices. If appliances are broken or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of CO can result.

  • Have a qualified service technician inspect appliances yearly, before the heating season.
  • Check vent pipes, flues and chimneys for leaks or blockages.
  • Unvented kerosene heaters are illegal in MA.
  • Never use a charcoal grill indoors.
  • Do not use a gas oven to heat your home.
  • Don’t leave a vehicle running inside a garage, even if the door is open. Fumes will build up quickly inside the home.
  • Snow can block car tailpipes outdoors.
  • Never use gasoline-powered engines (generators, chain saws, blowers, weed trimmers, mowers or snow blowers) indoors or near doors or windows.

Additional Resources for CO appliance safety

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