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Personal Emergency Preparedness Topics

November: Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas produced by burning materials containing carbon. You cannot see it, smell it or taste it, but carbon monoxide can easily cause illness and death. According to the CDC, more than 400 Americans die each year from unintentional CO poisoning.


CO can be produced by faulty or improperly used generators, automobiles, furnaces, gas ranges, chimneys, heating systems and burning charcoal or wood. CO emissions from these sources can quickly build up, especially in enclosed and poorly ventilated spaces.


Carbon monoxide poisoning can be very difficult to detect because its symptoms mimic those of other common ailments. Symptoms of CO poisoning can include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and confusion. The inhalation of high levels of CO can potentially cause loss of consciousness and death. The most vulnerable populations include the elderly, pregnant women, children and those with respiratory conditions. Sudden illness among both people and pets can be a reliable indication of CO poisoning.

Protection & Prevention

Installing carbon monoxide detectors is an excellent way to protect your family and pets from carbon monoxide poisoning. The detectors work much like a smoke alarm, beeping loudly to alert you when CO is detected, and one should be installed on each level of your home. In the state of Connecticut, it is required to install carbon monoxide detectors in new residential buildings and all schools. Having your heating systems and chimneys inspected and cleaned by a licensed technician every year can reduce the incidence of carbon monoxide in your home.

For more on carbon monoxide safety, please check out the following information: