"The Silent Killer"

Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of poisoning death each year with over 500 unintentional and 1,700 suicide deaths in the U.S. Deaths from carbon monoxide have declined since 1975.

Where does carbon monoxide come from?

When ever there is not enough oxygen available when fuel is burned excessive carbon monoxide can be emitted.

Heating oil, natural gas, propane, kerosene, gasoline, wood and almost anything that burns can produce carbon monoxide. You may be exposed to carbon monoxide if :

  • You leave your motor vehicle engine running.
  • Your home contains an incorrectly vented or malfunctioning water heater, furnace, space heater, fireplace or stove.
  • You burn charcoal, alcohol or gasoline in an enclosed tent, camper or garage.
  • You are being pulled behind a boat in a tube.

Some of the symptoms associated with low level of carbon monoxide poisoning are:

  • Headaches (specifically feels like a hat is on too tight)
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

In more severe exposures:

  • Disorientation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory failure
  • Cardiac arrest may occur

What about carbon monoxide detectors?

CDC recommends installing a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector near every sleeping area in you home.

Check CO detectors regularly to be sure they are functioning properly.

For more information about CO, please read our most recent blog post, "Staying Safe in October: Carbon Monoxide Awareness and the Iowa Poison Control Center."