FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE             Connecticut Department of Public Health

October 13, 2009                                      Contact:  William Gerrish

                                                                  (860) 509-7270



Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Can Kill in Minutes


Hartford - The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) today reminded residents of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) and the importance of installing a CO detector to prevent accidental poisonings.  A 2008 CDC/CTDPH survey of households in Connecticut found that nearly 40% of households did not have a carbon monoxide detector in their home.  Another 2.39% did not know or were not sure if they had a detector. 


In Connecticut this past winter, several families were taken to the hospital for treatment of CO poisoning due to malfunctioning furnaces.  Fortunately, all survived.  An operating CO detector would have alerted them to the danger and allowed them to get out of the house before they became overcome with CO.   


CO is an invisible, odorless gas that can be fatal.  The symptoms of CO poisoning mimic those of the flu, including headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or loss of consciousness.  If several members of a household experience these symptoms when they are home, but feel better when they are away from the home, there may be a CO problem. 


CO detectors cost from $25 - $50 and can be found at most hardware stores.  There are models that combine the CO detector with a smoke detector.  “Proper placement of the CO detector is important” said DPH Commissioner J. Robert Galvin.  “Install a CO detector on each floor of your residence near sleeping areas”.  It is recommended that the CO detector is a UL certified plug-in detector with battery-backup and a digital readout.  It should be tested monthly and the battery changed at least twice a year.  Replace alarms every 5 years because the sensors degrade over time.


Every home that burns oil, natural gas, wood or coal or uses a portable generator should have a CO detector that is in working order.  Residents should have their appliances and heating systems checked annually to ensure that there is adequate ventilation and CO is not building up in their homes.   The majority of CO poisonings occur between October and March, the normal heating season.        


Safety Tips to Prevent CO Poisoning


·   Install a carbon monoxide detector near sleeping areas.

  • Never use portable generators, pressure washer engines, or other gasoline-powered equipment (including tools) inside your home, garage, carport, basement or other enclosed spaces. 
  • Place gasoline-powered equipment outside and away from doors, windows or air intake vents.
  • Use grilling apparatus such as charcoal or gas grills outdoors only.

**Opening windows and doors, and operating fans is not sufficient to prevent buildup of CO in a home.


  • Get out of the house and seek medical help immediately if you or a family member has unexplained/sudden onset of symptoms of CO poisoning.  Symptoms include headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, and loss of consciousness.
  • Call 911 from a cell phone or neighbor’s home and the Connecticut Poison Control Center at the University of Connecticut Health Center (1-800-222-1222).


For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning and prevention:

  • DPH Environmental & Occupational Health Assessment Program                             


·        Connecticut Poison Control Center


  • Consumer Product Safety Commission


For more information on carbon monoxide detectors:

  • Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.



The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state.  To contact the department, please visit its website at  or call (860) 509-7270.