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Carbon Monoxide - Caitlin Foundation

Carbon Monoxide Awareness

An odorless, colorless toxic gas

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware of it.

At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. The effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending on age, overall health and the concentration and length of exposure.

Downloadable CO Fact Sheet


Every year many lives are lost due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning under circumstances that are preventable. Governor Charlie Crist signed into law a bill that will make Florida a safer place to live and ultimately save lives! A carbon monoxide alarm will be required in every building (residential and commercial) for which a building permit is issued for new construction on or after July 1, 2008, and having a fossil-burning heater or appliance, a fireplace, or an attached garage. The carbon monoxide alarm will need to be installed within 10 feet of each room used for sleeping purposes.

The new State Law also applies to public lodging, as it relates to every enclosed space or room that contains a boiler system.

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Sources of Carbon Monoxide

Unvented kerosene and gas space heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces; back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces; gas stoves; generators and other gasoline powered equipment; automobile exhaust from attached garages; and tobacco smoke.

Incomplete oxidation during combustion in gas ranges and unvented gas or kerosene heaters may cause high concentrations of CO in indoor air. Worn or poorly adjusted and maintained combustion devices (e.g., boilers, furnaces) can be significant sources, or if the flue is improperly sized, blocked, disconnected, or is leaking. Auto, truck, or bus exhaust from attached garages, nearby roads, or parking areas can also be a source.

Reducing Exposure to Carbon Monoxide

It is most important to be sure combustion equipment is maintained and properly adjusted. Vehicular use should be carefully managed adjacent to buildings and in vocational programs.

Additional ventilation can be used as a temporary measure when high levels of CO are expected for short periods of time.

  • Keep gas appliances properly adjusted.
  • Consider purchasing a vented space heater when replacing an unvented one.
  • Use proper fuel in kerosene space heaters.
  • Install and use an exhaust fan vented to outdoors over gas stoves.
  • Open flues when fireplaces are in use.
  • Choose properly sized wood stoves that are certified to meet EPA emission standards. Make certain that doors on all wood stoves fit tightly.
  • Have a trained professional inspect, clean, and tune-up central heating system (furnaces, flues, and chimneys) annually. Repair any leaks promptly.
  • Do not idle the car inside garage.

The information on this page comes from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Learn more at:

Mister Yuck - Carbon Monoxide Poison
Carbon Monoxide Danger
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