It’s Not Flu: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Looks a Lot Like Other Illnesses

 Headache, upset stomach, tired, dizzy –sounds like the flu, doesn’t it? But it could be carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning occurs when too much of this gas builds up in your body due to unsafe levels of CO in the air you breathe. Almost anything that burns fuel releases CO, including your furnace, water heater, gas stove, fireplace, charcoal grill, space heater, generator, and car. Carbon monoxide poisoning is more likely to happen during winter months and during storms or natural disasters because fuel-burning devices are commonly used then. Most of the time, CO is safely vented out of your home, but misusing or not maintaining these sources can lead to unsafe levels of CO gas in the air.

How often does this actually happen? Well, every year, more than 400 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning, and thousands more are treated in emergency departments. Because children process CO differently, they get sick faster than adults do, which means your kids will likely show symptoms before you do.

Carbon monoxide can’t be seen, smelled, or heard, so how can you protect you and your family? An alarm is the only way to know if there is carbon monoxide in your home. If you don’t have CO alarms, install them today.

  • Carbon monoxide alarms are not the same as smoke alarms. You need to have both CO and smoke alarms in your home.
  • Put a CO alarm on every level in your home and near every sleeping area.
  • Choose an alarm that plugs into an electrical outlet and has a battery back-up. Install the battery in every alarm.
  • Test your alarms monthly to make sure they work. Replace the batteries every year.
  • Never ignore a beeping CO alarm. Teach your children how to respond if the alarm goes off: get out of the house right away and call 911.