COVID-19 vaccine: Get the latest updates on children’s doses, booster shots and more. Learn More

5 Ways to Protect Yourself from CO Poisoning

Most homeowners recognize the importance of protecting their homes from fire. They do this by checking the batteries in their smoke alarms, completely extinguishing fires in their fireplaces, and keeping flammable materials away from candles or space heaters. However, while fire safety is front and center, many homeowners overlook how they can protect their families from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. And that’s a mistake no homeowner can afford to make.

Census data shows that most U.S. homes have fuel-burning appliances or an attached garage. Still, only approximately half of all homes have a working CO alarm – the only safe way to detect this odorless, colorless, and invisible threat. As a result, carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States, claiming more than 400 lives each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, more than 20,000 people visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized annually due to accidental CO poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention

Thankfully, protection can be as simple as applying these five tips.

  1. Seek professional help. One of the most common causes of CO poisoning is a filthy or inefficient heating system. Poorly maintained chimneys and flues can crack, causing ventilation problems and preventing CO from escaping the chimney. Likewise, a faulty furnace could also emit CO into the home. To eliminate this risk, your chimney or heating system is cleaned and serviced by trained technicians annually.
  2. Add or upgrade your carbon monoxide alarm. Your CO alarms are just as critical as your home’s smoke alarms, so make sure you have one which works correctly. Kidde Worry-Free carbon monoxide alarms have the most extended life in a CO alarm – 10 years – and come in battery and hardwired power options. Each notice contains a sealed-in lithium battery that lasts a decade providing homeowners with peace of mind knowing their alarms are always on. The Worry-Free Combination alarm warns of fire and CO and includes a voice alert to identify the present hazard. It also features a unique intelligent sensing technology to reduce nuisance alarms significantly.
  3. Keep the grill and generator outdoors. Using a grill or generator due to a power outage? Put on a jacket and go outside. Never bring the grill indoors or operate it or a generator in a space attached to your home, such as a porch, patio, or garage. Both can emit high levels of CO and need plenty of ventilation. Even having the garage door open does not offer enough airflow to reduce CO levels.
  4. Use your indoor appliances previously the manufacturer designed them the manufacturer. For instance, never use gas appliances, like your range or oven, to heat the house. This increases your risk of CO poisoning.
  5. Know the symptoms. CO symptoms mimic the flu without fever. Since winter is also peak flu season, know the difference. If you or a loved one is feeling confused or dizzy, or if they are suffering from headaches, nausea, sleepiness, vomiting, or weakness but has no fever, it may be a case of CO poisoning. Get the victim outside in fresh air and dial 911 immediately.

Carbon monoxide poisons thousands yearly, but you can protect yourself and your family using the tips above. To learn more about how Kidde alarms can raise your family’s awareness of CO threats, visit



 “Carbon Monoxide Alarm – Carbon Monoxide Detector | Kidde.” Kidde, 2019, Accessed 6 Dec. 2019.

“Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning in Your Home – EH: Minnesota Department of Health.”,

“Carbon Monoxide Laws.” Kidde, Accessed 30 May 2023.


Tomah Health