Carbon Monoxide Poisoning


Carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible gas that comes from burning fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, propane, oil, and methane. Home heating equipment can produce carbon monoxide when damaged or misused. Other sources of carbon monoxide include:

  • Cars
  • Generators
  • Lawn mowers
  • Tractors
  • Trucks

Never use these items inside! Their motors can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide that could lead to serious illness or death.

With low levels of exposure, symptoms of CO poisoning are much like the flu. More serious exposure can lead to dizziness, mental confusion, severe headaches, fainting, and even death.

What Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do

Carbon monoxide detectors measure the amount of CO gas that has accumulated. The detector sounds an alarm when the concentration of CO in the air is equal to or above 10% carboxyhemoglobin level in the blood. This is the lowest level of poisoning. At this level you may not have any symptoms but it is important to treat all alarms as serious and try to determine the cause to be sure your home is safe.

Purchase CO detectors that have been tested by qualified testing laboratories such as Underwriters Laboratories. Follow the instructions for installation and correct use. Just like smoke alarms, CO detectors should be tested monthly. Replace CO detectors every two years, or as recommended by the manufacturer.

For More Information

For more information, contact:

Public Education Manager
801 Sycolin Road, Suite 200
Leesburg, Virginia 20175

Phone: 703-737-8600