Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is one of the leading causes of unintentional poisoning deaths in the United States. CO is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced whenever fuel or other organic materials are burned. On average in California, about 40 individuals die per year from accidental CO Poisonings and more than 700 individuals go to the emergency room due to CO exposures. CO poisoning can cause shortness of breath, neurobehavioral effects, and even death. Low-level CO exposure may cause irregular heartbeat and damage to the heart muscle. Over 50% of these exposures occur in the home.
CO exposure can occur from:
- Using poorly maintained or unvented heating equipment
- Warming up vehicles in garages
- Using a gas stove or oven to heat the home
- Leaving chimneys clogged or blocking heating exhaust vents
- Running generators or gas-powered tools in enclosed areas or near windows, doors, or vents
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in California
- There were approximately 770 emergency department visits due CO poisoning in 2012.
- There were 518 deaths due to CO poisoning in 2000-2011.
Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
CO poisoning is preventable. There are several precautions that can be taken to ensure that you and your family are safe from CO poisoning. Install and maintain battery-powered CO alarms near all sleeping areas in your homes. Make sure that all fuel burning appliance and heating devices are properly vented and maintained. For more information, visit our page on Avoiding CO Poisoning.