Natural Gas Safety: Carbon Monoxide Prevention

woman with hand to her forehead


Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas produced by the incomplete combustion of fuels such as gasoline, coal, wood, charcoal, kerosene, natural gas, propane, heating oil and almost any other combustible material like tobacco, fibers and paper.

Although carbon monoxide poisoning can occur at any time of year, it is more common in winter when people warm up automobiles in attached garages or operate heating appliances and fireplaces with windows closed tight.

Early carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms include headache, nausea, drowsiness, and blurred vision. Since these symptoms are similar to those associated with the flu, you may not suspect that carbon monoxide is the cause. If those symptoms disappear when you go out into fresh air, that’s a sign that you could have a carbon monoxide problem.

Prevention is the best way to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning. Here are some ways to avoid carbon monoxide problems in your home or business:


  • Warm up your car in an attached garage – even with the door up
  • Leave a fire smoldering in your fireplace
  • Start gasoline-powered equipment in the garage
  • Try to heat a room with an appliance that is not meant for that function, like a gas stove
  • Use a gas or charcoal grill in your garage


  • Have fuel-burning equipment, like your furnace, inspected annually by a qualified technician
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in the area where you and your family or others will most need to be warned, like a hallway near the home’s bedrooms
  • Check for visible signs of problems such as high indoor humidity, soot, or water collecting near a burner or vent
  • Provide adequate combustion air per appliance manufacturer recommendations for appliances, including kerosene heaters
  • Make sure appliance fresh air intakes are not blocked or restricted
  • Keep vents and chimneys clear of debris or other blockages
  • Have appliance conversions or repairs conducted by a qualified technician