Carbon monoxide (abbreviated CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced by any burning source (such as furnaces, stoves, ovens, kerosene or gasoline heaters or generators, automobiles, or any other combustion source). CO can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, unconsciousness, or death. It blocks oxygen by combining with hemoglobin in red blood cells, and can cause death even at very low levels.
From 1999-2004 Maryland had a total of 46 deaths due to accidental CO exposure, for a rate of 1.43 deaths per million persons per year, compared with a national rate of 1.53 deaths per million per year. By comparison, some states had a rate as low as 0.35 deaths per million per year for the same period.
What can you do to protect yourself from Carbon Monoxide?
- Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
- Install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.
- Get medical help if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.
- Don't use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.
- Don't run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
- Make sure that stoves and fireplaces are properly vented. Don't heat your house with a gas oven.