What is Carbon Monoxide and my risk?

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a flammable, colorless, odorless, tasteless toxic gas produced during incomplete combustion of fuel - natural gas, oil, coal, wood, kerosene, etc. Everyone is at risk of CO poisoning, and because it has no smell, no taste, and no color, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. Sources of CO in and around your home include charcoal grills, gas-fired appliances, fireplaces, water heaters, space heaters, wood-burning stoves and furnaces, and motor vehicles.

At lower levels of exposure, CO results in symptoms that are very similar to the common flu and/or a cold, which include headaches, tiredness, nausea, and sometimes shortness of breath. Higher levels present the same symptoms, but are more severe, like disorientation, severe headaches and nausea, dizziness, fainting and fatigue, and even unconsciousness and/or death.

If you are suffering from chronic flu-like symptoms, see a doctor immediately and ask if it could be CO poisoning. CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Over 1,500 people die annually due to carbon monoxide, and 10,000 seek medical attention, all of which from accidental exposure.

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1. What is Carbon Monoxide and my risk?
2. What actions do I take if my carbon monoxide alarm goes off?