Carbon Monoxide Safety

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that kills over 1,700 people from accidental poisoning in North America. Over 10,000 others are treated or hospitalized annually.

Carbon Monoxide is the number one source of accidental poisoning. It is produced through incomplete combustion of fuels such as:

  • Coal
  • Fuel Oil
  • Kerosene
  • Natural gas
  • Propane
  • Wood

This generally is due to improperly adjusted burners or poorly ventilated flues. Another common cause of carbon monoxide is running a car in an attached garage.

The Fire Department responds to many calls for carbon monoxide alarms sounding. Most of these alarms are due to malfunction, improper installation, or overly sensitive alarms. However, we have also found situations where there has been a build-up of carbon monoxide that could become life-threatening if not detected.


Very small amounts of carbon monoxide over a long period of time, or large concentrations over a short period can cause illness and/or death. Symptoms may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath

In many cases, these symptoms are confused with the flu. 2 questions may help you to distinguish the difference:

  • Are other members of the household experiencing symptoms?
  • Do you feel better when you are away from home?

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

The Fire Department recommends the installation of carbon monoxide detectors. These should be mounted according to the manufacturer's recommendation which, as a rule of thumb, is in the same areas as your smoke detectors. Carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors should be tested monthly to ensure they are in proper working order.

If an alarm sounds, use your family's exit plans to leave the house and account for all family members. Call 911 and inform the dispatcher of the problem, and if your family is experiencing any symptoms. The Fire Department will respond and use their highly sensitive instruments to help determine the problem, and advise you on a safe way to correct the situation.

Carbon Monoxide Handouts

Carbon Monoxide Brochure (PDF)
Carbon Monoxide Safety Checklist (PDF)