A Little Carbon Monoxide (CO) and CO Detector Education

CO2 Do's & Don'ts

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Facts and Tips

AKE Safety Equipment is your fire and home safety expert. We believe it is our responsibility to educate families about the dangers of fire and how to protect themselves from it – it is our passion. Because of this, we have developed some need-to-know information about carbon monoxide safety and carbon monoxide detectors.

Known as the “silent killer”, carbon monoxide is a gas which is invisible, odorless, and colorless. It is created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) don’t burn completely. When you heat your home or cook in the home by burning fuel, you greatly increase your risk of producing carbon monoxide.

CO Poisoning Facts

  • Symptoms like headache, nausea, dizziness, or confusion are often overlooked
  • Undetected exposure can lead to death
  • Accidental CO exposure causes roughly 15,000 emergency department visits and 500 unintentional deaths in the United States each year
  • Adult males 65 years and older are more likely to die from CO poisoning than other person, usually because they mistake the symptoms for something else
  • CO poisoning can happen by a small amount of CO over a longer period of time or by a large amount of CO over a shorter amount of time
  • CO deaths are typically highest during cold months, because of increased use of gas-powered furnaces and use of alternative sources of heating
  • In 2010, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 80,100 non-fire CO incidents in which carbon monoxide was found, or an average of nine calls per hour
  • CO detectors alert occupants to gas build-up and should be placed on every level of a home and should be connected so that if one goes off, they all do
  • The amount of CO, measured in parts per million (ppm) is a factor in the symptoms for an average adult:
    • 50 ppm: No adverse effects with 8 hours of exposure
    • 200 ppm: Mild headache after 2-3 hours of exposure
    • 400 ppm: Headache and nausea after 1-2 hours of exposure
    • 800 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 45 minutes; collapse and unconsciousness after 1 hour of exposure
    • 1,000 ppm: Loss of consciousness after 1 hour of exposure
    • 1,600 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 20 minutes of exposure
    • 3,200 ppm: Headache, nausea, and dizziness after 5-10 minutes; collapse and unconsciousness after 30 minutes of exposure
    • 6,400 ppm: Headache and dizziness after 1-2 minutes; unconsciousness and danger of death after 10-15 minutes of exposure
    • 12,800 ppm: Immediate physiological effects, unconsciousness and danger of death after 1-3 minutes of exposure

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5650a1.htm, December 2007
http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/safety-tip-sheets, February 2014
“Symptoms of CO Poisoning”, Published on January 5, 2009, NFPA’s Fire Protection Handbook, 20th Edition


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