Carbon Monoxide Safety

Know the Symptoms, Prevent Hazards

Learn what causes carbon monoxide poisoning and what you can do to stay safe. If your carbon monoxide alarm sounds, go outside and call 911.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 50,000 people are taken to an emergency room and 430 people die every year from accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Because carbon monoxide gas is odorless and colorless, some people don't realize that they're suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning until they become very ill. Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can even cause death.

Here, we'll talk about what causes carbon monoxide poisoning, symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, and how you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

What causes carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide may be released as the result of improper functioning of heaters, boilers, fireplaces, stoves, or any other gas or fuel-powered equipment.

When carbon monoxide is released in an enclosed area such as a home, it may result in carbon monoxide poisoning.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Symptoms may occur immediately or gradually.

Exposure to carbon monoxide can cause flu-like symptoms, including headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, and loss of muscle control. Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to serious illness and even death.

If you experience these symptoms after being in an enclosed area, go out into fresh air immediately. Seek emergency medical help if symptoms do not quickly improve.

How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

The most important thing you can do is properly maintain heaters, boilers, fireplaces, stoves, and other gas or fuel-powered equipment.

Carbon monoxide detectors are an important second line of defense. These inexpensive devices will sound a loud alarm in the case of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

If a monitor goes off, get out of your house and call 911 immediately. Then, call the PSE&G Emergency Service line at 1-800-880-7734 (PSEG).

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends placing a carbon monoxide alarm in every area of your home. If just one alarm is installed, it should be placed near the sleeping rooms of the house.

Be sure to check the batteries of your carbon monoxide detector at least every six months.

Other ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Never use a gas oven or range to heat a room. This can deplete oxygen from the air and cause asphyxiation or severe carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Ensure that any natural-gas-burning appliances are installed, maintained and used safely and according to manufacturer instructions. Gas appliances should be checked by a qualified technician periodically to ensure that they are working properly.
  • Do not allow vehicles, lawnmowers, snow blowers, or any gasoline-powered engine to idle in a garage attached to a house. Carbon monoxide can drift into the living space and create a hazardous situation.

Note: PSE&G does not sell or install carbon monoxide alarms. The NJ Division of Consumer Affairs, Consumer Products Safety Commission, and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) can help you make an informed decision. Look for UL or nationally recognized testing laboratory certification on any alarm you purchase, and carefully follow the instructions for placement, use and maintenance.