Americans ill-equipped to prevent CO poisoning: survey

February 11, 2010

Most Americans are unable to correctly detect symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning or identify signs of a leak in their home, according to results of a survey recently conducted by Underwriters Laboratories in Northbrook, IL.

UL recommends a three-part strategy to prevent CO poisoning:


  • Signs of a CO leak include streaks of carbon or soot around the service door of fuel-burning appliances, moisture on windows and walls of furnace rooms, fallen soot from the fireplace, or small amounts of water leaking from the base of the chimney.
  • Perform annual maintenance on fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, hot water heaters and stoves.

  • Install UL-listed CO alarms outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • Test alarms monthly and replace the battery at least once a year.

  • If a CO alarm sounds, immediately open windows and doors for ventilation and move outside.
  • After a CO alarm sounds, have a professional inspect your home so the source can be identified and fixed.
  • If anyone in the home is experiencing signs of CO poisoning -- headache, dizziness or other flu-like symptoms -- immediately evacuate the home, contact the fire department and seek medical attention.