Carbon Monoxide Safety

Know the Symptoms, Prevent the Hazards

Carbon monoxide poisoning is entirely preventable. Learn what causes carbon monoxide poisoning and what you can do to stay safe.

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.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is potentially poisonous when inhaled. When too much carbon monoxide is in the air, your body replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with carbon monoxide. This can lead to serious tissue damage, or even death.

 

What causes carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide may be released as the result of improper functioning or misuse 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?

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. Symptoms may occur immediately or gradually.

Mild exposure Moderate exposure: Severe exposure:
Flu-like symptoms:
-Minor headache
-Nausea and vomiting
-Fatigue
Blurred vision
Weakness
Drowsiness
Elevated heart rate
Shortness of breath 
Unconsciousness
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)If the presence of carbon monoxide is confirmed, do not return until the problem is corrected.

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.