Carbon monoxide, also known as CO, is called the “invisible killer” or "silent killer" because it's a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. Avoidable deaths occur every year from accidental CO poisoning associated with common household appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters, generators, and fireplaces, and your running car. Generators in garages, or near air intakes, and use of charcoal or gas grills indoors, are common causes of CO poisoning during power outages.
CO poisoning symptoms include headaches, dizziness, confusion, nausea, and similar flu-like symptoms. When CO poisoning is the cause of these symptoms they usually occur only in the home and decrease or disappear when you leave the home. Everyone in your home may have similar symptoms. In fact, CO poisoning is sometimes confused with the flu or food poisoning.
While hundreds of people die in the U.S. each year from accidental CO poisoning, this tragedy can be prevented. If you don't have a battery-powered or battery back-up CO detector in your home, install one as soon as possible and check it every six months. You should also follow these safety tips:
Since you can't see or smell carbon monoxide, it is important to recognize the most common symptoms of CO poisoning. If you think you are experiencing CO poisoning, you should get fresh air and seek medical attention immediately!