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Carbon Monoxide Safety

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas produced by fuel burning appliances such as gas stoves, boilers, water heaters, dryers, space heaters, and even generators. Overexposure (most commonly due to faulty appliances) is incredibly dangerous and often results in fatalities.

How Can I Stay Safe?

New York State law requires that every home have a carbon monoxide detector. You should install a CO detector within 15 feet of each bedroom. We do not endorse any specific brand or model of CO detectors, but we recommend you purchase one approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

Once installed, the detector will trigger an alarm when an excess amount of CO is detected.

In addition to installing and maintaining CO detectors throughout your home, you should also never use a generator indoors. Only operate a generator outdoors in a well-ventilated, dry area, away from air intakes to the home, and protected from direct exposure to rain and snow, preferably under a canopy, open shed, or carport.

If you suspect CO poisoning, immediately evacuate the premises and call 911.

Signs of CO Poisoning

  • Breathing small amounts of CO can result in headaches, dizziness, or nausea.
  • Prolonged exposure could lead to fainting or, in some cases, could be fatal.

If you suspect CO poisoning, immediately evacuate the premises and call 911.


Signs of CO Buildup

  • Stuffy, stale, or smelly air with high indoor humidity
  • Fallen soot from a fireplace chimney or furnace flue
  • No draft in the chimney or flue
  • Hot draft backing out of the flue diverter when the furnace is operating


Preventing CO Poisoning

  • Annually inspect your fireplace, chimney, and furnace venting system, and keep them clear of leaves, nests, soot, or other obstructions.
  • Make sure the flue pipe connection to the furnace chimney is tight and the pipes aren't dented or cracked.
  • Check that the vent pipe on your water heater is as tight and well-fitted as the furnace piping. Replace worn parts or ill-fitting pipes.
  • When switching from oil to natural gas, be sure to have the chimney cleaned and inspected by a qualified service person.
  • Have a qualified heating contractor tune up and maintain your heating system periodically.
  • Never leave a vehicle or gasoline-powered equipment running in a garage, even with the garage door open. For the same reason, don't use grills indoors or portable generators in an enclosed space.