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11/28/23 blog post

know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning

the invisible gas that can be life-threatening


Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, invisible gas that can build up near fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, ovens, generators, space heaters, indoor grills, and fireplaces. CO poisoning happens far more often in winter as that is the time families are most often using those appliances. As the weather gets colder it is important to be vigilant about possible CO poisoning.

What is the most common source of carbon monoxide poisoning? 

An unvented, kerosene or gas-fueled space heater in the home is the most common source of CO poisoning. 

These heaters vent the gases into the room, instead of outdoors. A space heater that is not installed right or not working correctly can release carbon monoxide and other toxic fumes into the room.

Where else can carbon monoxide leak from?

Carbon monoxide can also leak from other items that use oil, wood, gas, or coal and are not working properly. It could include items such as stoves, clothes dryers, water heaters, gas log burners, ceiling-mounted heating units, heating furnaces, barbecue grills, gas-fueled generators, wood-burning fireplaces, clogged chimneys, vehicles with engine running, especially in garages and tobacco smoke. 

How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

Just like smoke alarms, it’s essential to have a carbon monoxide detector on every level of a home. Make sure you replace the batteries every Spring and Fall. If you cannot afford a carbon monoxide alarm, reach out to your local fire station in some cases, they are able to provide one. If you live in the Dayton area visit the Dayton Fire Department's Website here, to learn how you can get a carbon monoxide alarm.

"Half of all carbon monoxide poisoning deaths could be prevented by carbon monoxide alarms," says Abbey Pettiford, injury prevention coordinator at Dayton Children’s "They are available online and in stores for about $20, a small price to pay to help detect odorless, poisonous gases in the home." 

What are the signs and symptoms of carbonic monoxide poisoning?

At lower levels of exposure, carbon monoxide causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu.

These symptoms include:

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • disorientation
  • nausea
  • fatigue

 "If you suspect CO poisoning, get checked right away. Dangerous levels in the patient can be detected quickly with a simple blood test," says Dr. Tom Krzmarzick chief, division of the Soin Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Center at Dayton Children's. "Suspect CO poisoning when flu-like symptoms exist in more than one person in the household and symptoms seem to lessen in those who spend some time outside of the home."

For more information about preventing carbon monoxide poisoning from the American Academy of Pediatrics click here.

Need help with utility bills?

With utility costs on the rise this year, Dayton Children’s wants you to know there are resources to help pay these bills prior to turning to an unsafe source for heat this winter. Click here to access the Community Resources Hub for more information. 

Abbey Pettiford

Injury Prevention Coordinator
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