CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking: Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide, also called CO, is a toxic gas that you cannot see or smell.
You may be exposed to unsafe levels of CO by:
  • Using poorly maintained or improperly vented fireplaces, woodstoves, heating equipment, ovens, water heaters or other appliances;
  • Using a gas stove, grill, or oven to heat the home;
  • Running a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoalburning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.
  • Cooking with a charcoal or gas grill inside the home or other enclosures.
vector graphic of a house and carbon monoxide monitor
Although CO Poisoning can be prevented, each year, approximately 438 people in the U.S. die as a result of unintentional, non-fire related exposure to this toxic gas.
vector graphic of an ambulance

Breathing CO can cause headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.

If CO levels are high enough, you may become unconscious or die.

Seek medical help and get outside to fresh air if you think you may have CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.

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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

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Make sure all fuel-burning appliances, fireplaces, and wood stoves are properly vented

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Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year

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Only use generators outside, more than 20 feet away from your home, doors, and windows

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Never use a generator, grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal burning devices inside the home, basement, or garage or near a window, door or vent

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Do not use a gas cooking range, grill, or oven to heat your home

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Do not run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if the garage door is left open

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Do not burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented


Visit CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Network to learn more about carbon monoxide poisoning

Page last reviewed: October 11, 2019