It’s Colorless, It’s Odorless, and It Can Kill You! Let’s Talk about Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

As temperatures drop and home heating is on the rise, carbon monoxide poisoning can be a hidden hazard lurking in the place you feel the safest – YOUR HOME!  Carbon monoxide, also known simply as CO, is found in the fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges or furnaces. No one is immune to CO poisoning, as it puts at risk anyone who breathes it from infants to elderly, and even pets.

For many who experience carbon monoxide poisoning, it may feel like you are coming down with the flu. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. Unfortunately, individuals who are sleeping or pass out before they realize they have these symptoms are at greater risk of dying. According to the CDC, more than 400 Americans die each year from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. Additionally, more than 24,000 visit the emergency room or are hospitalized each year due to CO poisoning. January is one of the deadliest months when it comes to CO poisoning due with increased home heating measures. As you kick off a new year, make a safety resolution to protect you and you family from the dangers of carbon monoxide. Here are 6 safety tips to prevent CO poisoning in your home:

  1. Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home. Get in the habit of checking or replacing the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. Place your detector where it will wake you up if it alarms, such as outside your bedroom. Consider buying a detector with a digital readout. This detector can tell you the highest level of CO concentration in your home in addition to alarming. Replace your CO detector every five years.
  2. If a CO detector sounds, leave your home immediately and call 911 from outside. Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and you or others experience some of the common symptoms.
  3. Have your heating system inspected and serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  4. Do not use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside the home, basement or garage or outside the home near a window.
  5. Do not burn anything in an unvented stove or fireplace. Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year, as they can be blocked by debris which can cause CO to build up.
  6. Avoid letting vehicles stand idle inside a garage attached to a house, even if the garage door is left open.

DSC_0560For the past 24 years, Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® have reached more than 1.6 million individuals by providing the education, training and resources to make farm, ranch and rural life safer and healthier for children and their communities. If you want to start the New Year by making a safe investment, a modest donation of only $13 is all it takes to send another child to a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day in North America. Donate by texting the word “safetyday” to 41444 or go to to contribute on-line.

To learn more, call 888-257-3529 or visit

Photo: In addition to gaining safety education delivered in a fun, age-appropriate and hands-on manner, Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® participants receive a t-shirt and a take-home bag filled with resources aimed at keeping the entire family safe.