Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a colorless & odorless gas produced by the burning of natural gas, oil & propane in furnaces, water heaters & stoves. These appliances are designed to vent the CO to the outside. However, incomplete combustion of fuel, improper installation, or blockages, leaks or cracks in the venting systems can cause CO to reach harmful levels inside the home. Dangerously high levels of CO will lead to incapacitation or death, with victims sometimes aware that they were in danger.

Homeowners can take action against carbon monoxide poisoning by taking the following steps:
• Never use a gas stove or oven to heat the home, even temporarily.
• Professionally inspect all fuel-burning appliances every year, preferably before the start of the cold weather season when heaters & furnaces are used.
• Appliances include gas stoves/ovens, furnaces/heaters, water heaters & gas clothes dryers.
• All such devices should be properly installed & vented to the outside.
• Have flues & chimneys for gas fireplaces inspected regularly for cracks, leaks, & blockages that may allow a buildup of CO to occur.
• Don’t start a vehicle in a closed garage or idle the engine in the garage even if the door is open.
• Gas powered generators & charcoal grills must never be used indoors.
• Install a CO detector (either battery operated, hard wired or plug-in) on each floor of the home & follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper location.
• Learn what to do if the CO alarm activates.

Based on an article by Pillar to Post Home Inspectors