Carbon Monoxide

The Silent Killer

Carbon Monoxide, also known as CO, is an odorless, invisible gas that can pose a serious health hazard to humans and pets at relatively low levels. Despite the proliferation of both wired and battery powered carbon monoxide detectors over the past decade, it is vital that everyone have a basic understanding of the dangers associated with this silent killer.

Often a result of incomplete combustion, carbon monoxide can be produced when fuels such as wood, propane, gasoline, or natural gas are burned. In the home, appliances such as furnaces, water heaters, portable generators, and gas cooking equipment are all capable of carbon monoxide production if not properly used or maintained. It is imperative that every home have a working carbon monoxide detector.

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

Because CO is odorless, colorless, and otherwise undetectable to the human senses, people may not know that they are being exposed. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

High level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including:

  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of muscular coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Ultimately death