New Orleans, LA – Carbon monoxide poisoning sends 20,000 Americans to the emergency room each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Dubbed “the silent killer,” the odorless, colorless gas can cause dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, headaches, sleepiness, vomiting, weakness and death.
Carbon monoxide is produced “by the incomplete burning of various fuels, including coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas,” according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, gas ovens, water heaters, clothes dryers, space heaters and generators can be sources.
In honor of National Poison Prevention Week, March 2026, here are the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s tips on preventing CO poisoning:
Have heating systems professionally inspected and serviced annually. Check chimneys and flues for blockages, corrosion, partial and complete disconnections and loose connections.
Never service fuel-burning appliances without proper knowledge, skill and tools.
Never operate a portable generator or any other gasoline engine-powered tool in a garage, house or other enclosed space. “Even with open doors and windows, these spaces can trap CO and allow it to quickly build to lethal levels,” the CPSC reports.
Install a CO alarm in the hallway near every sleeping area in a home. Make sure the alarm cannot be covered up by furniture or draperies.
Never use fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent unless it is specifically designed for use in an enclosed space.
Never burn charcoal inside a home or garage.
Never leave a car running in an attached garage even with the garage door open.
Never use gas appliances, such as ranges, ovens or clothes dryers to heat your home.
Do not cover the bottom of natural gas or propane ovens with aluminum foil. Doing so blocks the combustion air flow through the appliance and can produce CO.
During home renovations, ensure that appliance vents and chimneys are not blocked by tarps or debris.