- Fire Department
- Safety Information
- Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and deadly gas. Because you can't see or smell it, carbon monoxide can kill before you know it's there. Today's more energy-efficient, airtight home designs contribute to the problem by trapping CO-polluted air inside the home.
Why is carbon monoxide dangerous?
The greatest danger of carbon monoxide is its attraction to hemoglobin in the bloodstream. Carbon monoxide is breathed in through the lungs and bonds with the hemoglobin in your blood, displacing the oxygen cells needed to function. When CO is present in the air, it rapidly accumulates in the blood. It will eventually displace enough oxygen in your system to suffocate you from the inside out, resulting in brain damage or death.
Where does carbon monoxide come from?
Any fuel-burning appliance can be a source of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is produced when any fuel (i.e., gas, kerosene, oil, propane, etc.) is incompletely burned or exposed to heat (as in a fire). Typical appliances that we rely on for comforts such as our furnaces, fireplaces, clothes dryers, or stoves, are often the main source of CO. When they malfunction or are not properly ventilated, CO levels rise quickly.
What are the symptoms of CO Poisoning?
CO poisoning can cause a variety of symptoms based on the length of exposure.
Mild Exposure: slight headache; nausea; vomiting; fatigue (often described as "flu-like" symptoms)
Medium Exposure: severe, throbbing headache; drowsiness; confusion; accelerated heart rate
Extreme Exposure: unconsciousness; convulsion; heart and lung failure; brain damage; death.
If you suspect carbon monoxide is present in your home, leave the premises immediately and contact the fire department for further assistance. Do not open any windows for ventilation prior to exiting the home. This will cause the CO level to dissipate and prevent us from getting an accurate reading with our monitors.