What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is the result of incomplete combustion of almost any type of fuel. It is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and non-irritating. Carbon Monoxide is sometimes called The Silent Killer because when it enters the blood stream it prevents the blood from absorbing oxygen. When oxygen deficient blood reaches the heart and brain, it can damage those organs and cause illness or even death.

Carbon Monoxide in Your Home

Your home can show signs of carbon monoxide inside such as

  • Unusually high humidity
  • Heavy condensation on walls and windows
  • Soot or water collecting near a burner or vent

What are the symptoms?

The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu but with-out a fever. Symptoms will disappear when a person is exposed to fresh air. Symptoms include the following

  • Mild Exposure
  • Slight headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Medium Exposure
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Severe headache
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Severe Exposure
  • Convulsion
  • Unconsciousness
  • Cardiac/respiratory failure
  • Even Death

Treatment can include exposure to fresh air or oxygen. Severe exposure may require medical attention.

What Should I Do?

  • If you are experiencing symptoms, leave your home and get to fresh air
  • Ventilate the area, open doors and windows
  • Shut off appliances that are effected
  • If an appliance is found to be producing CO, discontinue using it until necessary repairs have been made
  • Call 911 if necessary

How Do I Prevent Carbon Monoxide?

  • Never operate an automobile, gas grill, lawn mower or any type of combustible engine inside your attached garage or your home
  • Have your gas appliances checked by a qualified technician regularly
  • Make sure your fresh air intakes are not blocked
  • Be sure your vents and chimneys are properly installed and free of debris, and blockage
  • Natural Gas fired appliances should have a clear blue flame, yellow or orange may indicate a problem and should be checked at by a trained technician
  • Carbon Monoxide alarms should be used throughout your home

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

While some CO detectors last up to 7 years, most do not. It is recommended that you replace your detector every 5 years. When in doubt of its age replace it. Be sure to test your detector regularly and replace batteries yearly.

Minnesota Statues require that Carbon Monoxide detectors be installed in every single family dwelling and every unit in a multifamily dwelling home.