What is carbon monoxide (CO) and why do I need a carbon monoxide detector?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and toxic gas produced as a by-product of combustion. Any fuel burning appliance, vehicle, tool or other device has the potential to produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide gas. Examples of carbon monoxide producing devices commonly in use around the home include:

  • Automobiles
  • Charcoal grills
  • Fireplaces and woodstoves
  • Fuel fired furnaces (non-electric)
  • Gas dryers
  • Gas stoves
  • Gas water heaters
  • Lawnmowers and other yard equipment

The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that approximately 200 people per year are killed by accidental CO poisoning with an additional 5,000 people injured. These deaths and injuries are typically caused by improperly used or malfunctioning equipment aggravated by improvements in building construction that limit the amount of fresh air flowing in to homes and other structures.

While regular maintenance and inspection of gas burning equipment in the home can minimize the potential for exposure to CO gas, the possibility for some type of sudden failure resulting in a potentially life threatening build up of gas always exists.

Show All Answers

1. Why is carbon monoxide so dangerous?
2. What is carbon monoxide (CO) and why do I need a carbon monoxide detector?
3. What are the medical effects of carbon monoxide and how do I recognize them?
4. How many carbon monoxide detectors should I have and where should I place them?
5. What should I do when my carbon monoxide detector goes off?