Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Killer

Carbon Monoxide Resources

MN Poison Control Carbon Monoxide Fact Sheet

Carbon monoxide (CO) is the leading cause of unintentional, non-fire related death in the United States. An average of 438 deaths were reported annually from 1999-2012 due to exposure to this colorless, tasteless, odorless gas.

Where Does Carbon Monoxide Come From?

Heating oil, natural gas, propane, kerosene, gasoline, wood, and almost anything that burns can produce carbon monoxide. You may be exposed to carbon monoxide if:

  • You leave your motor vehicle engine running.
  • Your home contains an incorrectly vented or malfunctioning water heater, furnace, space heater, fireplace, or stove.
  • You burn charcoal, alcohol or gasoline in an enclosed tent, camper, or garage.
  • You are being pulled behind a boat in a tube.

Some of the symptoms associated with low level of carbon monoxide poisoning are:

  • Headaches (specifically feels like a hat is on too tight)
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

In more severe exposures:

  • Disorientation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory failure
  • Cardiac arrest may occur

What About Carbon Monoxide Detectors?

The Minnesota Poison Control System recommends having a UL-listed CO alarm within 10 feet of each bedroom. Residents should follow manufacturers’ instructions on routine maintenance and plan to replace alarms every five to seven years.