Fall is carbon monoxide season

October 15th, 2018


Fall is officially here so folks are turning on their gas heaters and using indoor fireplaces to stay warm and cozy. But these can put people at risk of exposure to carbon monoxide gas.

Carbon monoxide (CO) gas is known as the “invisible killer” because you can’t tell if you are breathing it. It is an odorless, colorless gas that can build up indoors and cause you to pass out or even die.


Fall and winter are the most common times for carbon monoxide poisonings. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, more than 20,000 visit an emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Carbon monoxide is produced by fuel-burning appliances that are malfunctioning or improperly installed. It is also produced by furnaces, gas range/stoves, gas clothes dryers, water heaters, fireplaces and generators.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be difficult to identify because the most common symptoms are similar to the flu -- dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. If you go to the doctor with these symptoms, be sure to mention if you have a gas heater at home or if symptoms improve when you’re not at home.

The best way to protect your family is to install a carbon monoxide detector inside your home to warn you of toxic air. If the alarm sounds, get out of the house immediately and call the fire department. If anyone is feeling sick, they should be evaluated in the nearest emergency department, says Todd Phillips, MD, a toxicologist at JPS Health Network.

Carbon monoxide safety:

  • Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.
  • Never use a gas range or oven for heating.
  • Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year.


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