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What is carbon monoxide poisoning?

Learn why carbon monoxide is dangerous to your health and how carbon monoxide detectors and alarms work.

Many individuals often ask, “What is carbon monoxide poisoning?” Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous, colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. Although it has no detectable odor, CO is often mixed with other gases that do have an odor. So, you can inhale carbon monoxide right along with gases that you can smell and not even know that CO is present.

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can happen at any time of the year, but the danger is greater during the winter. Now is the time of the year when we run our furnaces at full blast and warm up our cars before driving in the cold, which can produce CO. Here’s what you need to know

  • At high levels, CO poisoning can cause sudden collapse, loss of consciousness and death
  • It is often produced in domestic or industrial settings by older motor vehicles and other gasoline-powered tools, heaters, and cooking equipment
  • Exposure to high levels of CO can be dangerous to human health.
  • Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, mental confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tiredness or chest pains. If you experience these symptoms, get to fresh air and call for help immediately.
  • One of the most dangerous wintertime sources of carbon monoxide is car exhaust. If you are stranded in your car and you keep the engine on in order to run your heater, make sure the exhaust pipe is clear. If the pipe is clogged with snow or other materials, the exhaust could back up into your car.
  • Any appliance in your home that burns fuel may emit carbon monoxide. Gas kitchen ranges and kerosene space heaters may emit carbon monoxide if they are not properly ventilated. Be sure to read the instructions on your heater to vent it correctly
  • Now that we are in the winter season, it is a prime time to have your furnaces and gas water heaters looked at to make sure they are working properly.

In addition to the CO information above, it is very important to have a CO detector in your home. Because carbon monoxide is toxic, colorless, odorless and tasteless it makes it very difficult to detect without a sensitive CO detector. WH Security has CO sensors that monitor air quality inside your home. For more information, visit our environmental sensors page or call a representative at (763) 477-3664 .