Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause death

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness or death when inhaled. This is called CO poisoning.  Recognize CO poisoning symptoms, including: headache, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, confusion, and tiredness.  If you suspect CO poisoning, seek prompt medical attention.

CO is in fumes from cars, portable generators, heating systems and similar things.  Each year in Minnesota, especially in winter, unintentional CO poisonings result in emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and even deaths. CO poisonings are tragic and costly, and many poisonings can be prevented with proper use and maintenance of CO alarms.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable

Unintentional CO poisoning is almost entirely preventable. Make sure that fuel-burning appliances and heating devices are properly installed, vented, and maintained.

Never use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal burning device inside the home, basement, or garage or near a window.

To detect potentially deadly conditions, CO alarms should be installed and regularly maintained in all households. In Minnesota, state law (Minnesota Statutes, sections 299F.50 and 299F.51) requires CO alarms in all single and multi-family Minnesota residences within 10 feet of each room used for sleeping. Regular inspection and tune-up of combustion appliances should also be considered.

What is being done about carbon monoxide poisoning?

  • The MDH Indoor Air Program oversees some CO regulations that apply to enclosed sports arenas in Minnesota and educates the public regarding CO poisoning prevention. For more information, see: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Your Home.
  • The MDH Minnesota Environmental Public Health Tracking Program tracks data related to CO exposure and poisoning. An important application for tracking data is to monitor the impacts of state and local public health programs and policies that are designed to reduce exposure and prevent disease.
  • The Hennepin County Medical Center's Minnesota Poison Control System provides emergency poison management and poison prevention information.