Carbon Monoxide Questions & Answers
Consumer Product Safety Commission
CPSC Document #466


What should you do when the Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector/alarm sounds?

Never ignore an alarming CO detector/alarm. If the detector/alarm sounds, operate the reset button. Call your emergency services (fire department or 911). Immediately move to fresh air -- outdoors or by an open door/window.

What is CO and how is it produced in the home?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and poisonous gas. It is produced by the incomplete burning of solid, liquid, and gaseous fuels. Appliances fueled with natural gas, liquefied petroleum (LP gas), oil, kerosene, coal, or wood may produce CO. Burning charcoal produces CO. Running cars produce CO.

What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?

The initial symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu (but without the fever). They include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

Many people with CO poisoning mistake their symptoms for the flu or are misdiagnosed by physicians, which sometimes results in tragic deaths.