Carbon Monoxide

When You Smell Gas

Be Alert to the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, non-corrosive gas that can be a by-product of the combustion of ordinary fuels. Carbon monoxide can become very poisonous if it is not vented properly and if allowed to accumulate without sufficient oxygen.

Carbon Monoxide can be produced if natural gas doesn't burn and vent properly. It also is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. This can happen if your gas appliance or fuel-burning device isn't properly maintained or adjusted. Other CO sources include vehicle exhaust, blocked chimney flues, fuel-burning cooking appliances used improperly for heating purposes, and charcoal grills used in the home, tent, camper, garage or other unventilated area.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide may cause any or all of the following symptoms – headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, irregular breathing, rapid heartbeat, ringing in the ears, seeing spots, fatigue, confusion, memory loss, loss of coordination, blurred vision, feeling ill or tired at home but fine when away from home, loss of consciousness, coma and eventually seizures, cardiac arrest and respiratory failure.

Household symptoms include stuffy, foul-smelling or stale air, the smell of exhaust fumes, a yellow/orange flame on gas ranges, furnace or water heater burners, soot around the outside of the chimney, furnace or water heater flue vent or fireplace and large areas of condensation of water vapor on walls or windows.

What to Do to Prevent Carbon Monoxide in Your Home

Your gas furnace and water-heating equipment should be serviced regularly to ensure they are working properly, efficiently and safely. This includes proper venting of exhaust gases. In a tightly sealed home, you may need to install fresh air inlets and exhaust fans to supply the circulation needed for combustion. Carbon monoxide detectors, available at numerous hardware, home and variety stores, are just as important as smoke detectors.

Follow these simple guidelines if you think you have a carbon monoxide problem in your home.

  1. If your detector alarm sounds and you are experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, leave your home and immediately call your local emergency services number or 911.
  2. If you have no symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and your detector alarm sounds, first check the detector. Push the reset button (if available); turn off any appliances or other sources of combustion. Get fresh air to the building and check for sources of carbon monoxide. Adjust, repair or replace your appliances as needed by calling a qualified service or repair company.
  3. If you think you have symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and you do not have a detector, leave your home and immediately call your local emergency services number or 911.

Preventive Measures and Safety Tips

  • Purchase carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Be sure all fuel-burning equipment is installed, adjusted and operating properly.
  • Have appliances installed by a professional, and carefully follow manufacturer instructions.
  • Do not cut off or restrict combustion air sources to appliances.
  • Equipment should be inspected regularly by a professional heating or appliance contractor.
  • Provide adequate ventilation in the house when using stoves, fireplaces or unvented space heaters.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors or in an enclosed space.
  • Clean the chimney and check for blockage, especially with wood burning fireplaces and stoves.
  • Open the garage door before starting your vehicle.