What are the signs of Carbon Monoxide Exposure?

The symptoms vary greatly from person to person, depending on age and general health, the concentration of exposure and the length of exposure.  High concentrations are dangerous for even brief periods.  Initial symptoms can include lethargy, nausea and headaches.  But these symptoms can vary widely.

According to the NFPA, there were 242 CO-related non-fire deaths attributed to heating and cooking equipment in 1991.  The leading specific types of equipment were:

  • Gas-fueled space heaters (69 deaths)
  • Gas-fueled furnaces (52 deaths)
  • Charcoal grills (36 deaths)
  • Gas-fueled ranges (23 deaths)
  • Portable kerosene heaters (23 deaths)
  • Wood stoves (13 deaths)

As with fire deaths, the risk of unintentional CO death is highest for the very young (ages 4 and under) and the very old (ages 75 and above).

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide is an invisible, odorless and colorless gas created from incomplete combustion.  Heating and cooking equipment are possible sources of Carbon Monoxide, as are vehicles running in an attached garage.

How can I protect myself from Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

The best protection is PREVENTION.  Insure that heating and cooking equipment is properly installed and maintained.  Vehicles, lawn and garden equipment should not be operated in attached garages.  A Carbon Monoxide detector installed in your home can provide an early warning of accumulating Carbon Monoxide, but is no substitute for proper maintenance of heating and cooking equipment.


  • If you need to warm up a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting the ignition.  Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engines or motors indoors, even if the garage doors are open.
  • Have your vehicle inspected for exhaust leaks, if you have any symptoms of CO poisoning.
  • Have fueled burning household heating equipment (fireplaces, furnaces, water heaters, wood stoves and space or portable heaters) checked every year before cold weather sets in.  All chimneys and chimney connectors should be evaluated for proper installation, cracks, blockages or leaks.  Make needed repairs before using the equipment.
  • Before enclosing central heating equipment in a smaller room, check with your fuel supplier to ensure that air for proper combustion is provided.
  • When using a fireplace, open the flute for adequate ventilation.
  • Kerosene heaters are illegal in many states.  Always check with local authorities before buying or using one.  Open a window slightly whenever using kerosene heater.  Refuel outside, after the device has cooled.
  • Always use barbecue grills which can produce Carbon Monoxide outside.  never use them in the home or garage.
  • When purchasing new heating and cooking equipment, select factory built products approved by an independent testing laboratory.  Do not accept damaged equipment.  Hire a qualified technician (usually employed by the local oil or gas company) to install the equipment.  Ask about and insist that the technician follow applicable fire safety and local building codes.
  • If you purchase an existing home, have a qualified technician evaluate the integrity of the heating and cooking systems, as well as the sealed spaces between the garage and house.

Carbon Monoxide Information

​Fire Prevention and Safety

Operation E.D.I.T.H.

  1. Prepare escape routes from every room in your home.  You should plan on two different escape routes.
  2. Your bedroom door should be closed while sleeping.  It helps hold out smoke and toxic gases in case of fire.
  3. Have a fixed location outside of your home where everyone will meet in case of fire.
  5. Call 911 (or your emergency number) from your neighbors house.

​The Volunteer Firefighters of the Fredericksburg Volunteer Fire Department take fire prevention very seriously.  Each year hundres of local school children compete in a fire prevention poster contest.  In addition to this, many classes come to visit our fire house to experience first hand what a fire fighter actually does, looks like and sounds like.  They always leave after a visit knowing about smoke detectors, operation E.D.I.T.H. "Escape Drills In The Home" and how to STOP, DROP and ROLL.  They also love having a "hands-on" try at our gear and the apparatus, not to mention the "fire pole".  We also have the great pleasure of visiting our local schools and day care centers with the trucks.