Carbon Monoxide Awareness & Safety
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that cannot be seen or smelled, and it can kill a person in minutes. It is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. Hundreds of people die accidentally every year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by appliances that are not used properly or that are malfunctioning. Carbon monoxide can build up so quickly that victims are overcome before they can get help. Once inhaled, carbon monoxide can cause permanent brain damage, and can trigger a heart attack in people with preexisting heart disease.
The key to catching carbon monoxide poisoning before it has the chance to cause permanent damage is by paying attention to the warning signs. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include: headache, dizziness, fatigue, weakness, confusion, and nausea. Low-level carbon monoxide poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are like other illnesses, such as the flu. If the symptoms go away when you leave your home and come back when you return, or if everyone in the home has similar symptoms at the same time, this could be an indicator that you and your family are experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning.
How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?
- Never burn charcoal inside homes, tents, campers, vans, trucks, garages or mobile homes. Do not burn charcoal in the fireplace in your home.
- Never use gasoline powered equipment indoors.
- Never use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.
- Never idle a car in a garage, even when the garage door is open.
- Never sleep in a room while using an unvented gas or kerosene heater.
- Make sure that chimneys and flues are in good condition and are not blocked.
Warning Devices Required
Carbon monoxide warning devices will provide additional protection for you and your family. Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors are required in all Tumwater residences.
If you suspect someone has been poisoned by carbon monoxide, be sure to move the person immediately to a place with fresh air and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
For more information on carbon monoxide safety during a power outage, including fact sheets available in several different languages, please consult the Washington State Department of Health website.