Emergency Department

202 S. Park St.
Madison, WI 53715

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Indoor Safety Reminders: Carbon Monoxide

cozy socks and fire

As temperatures cool and we move into winter, many people are turning up the heat in their homes or using carbon emitting space heaters to stay warm. It’s important to remember the dangers and safety protocols that come with heating.  


Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless and undetectable to human senses, and people may not know they have been exposed. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. These can include:  

  • Nausea  
  • Dizziness  
  • Headache  
  • Shortness of breath 

High level poisoning can come with progressively more severe symptoms, including:  
  • Mental confusion  
  • Vomiting  
  • Loss muscular coordination  
  • Loss of consciousness  

Ultimately, carbon monoxide poisoning can be deadly or cause long term damage to internal organs.  

There are precautions that can prevent CO exposure, which include:  
  1. Installing carbon monoxide alarms in your home  
  2. If you are warming your car, do it outside. If you start the care in the garage, move it outside to idle and ensure the exhaust pipe is clear.  
  3. During or after a big snowfall, make sure the dryer vent, furnace vent, stove/oven vent and fireplace/chimney are clear. 
  4. Use proper ventilation (outdoors, away from windows, doors or vent openings) when using a portable generator or heater.  
  5. Have fuel burning heating equipment and chimneys inspected by a professional every year, prior to cold weather starts.  

Use these tips to stay safe. It's important to get outdoors if you can -- just remember to check the weather before heading outside.