Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that is very toxic, because it combines with the body’s blood and prevents it from absorbing oxygen. Carbon monoxide results from the incomplete combustion of fuels such as gasoline, kerosene, heating oil, propane, diesel fuel, natural gas, wood and coal. The risk of CO accumulation is greater with poorly ventilated areas. Vents, equipment and chimneys that are not properly installed or maintained are the primary cause of carbon monoxide, even when operating properly. For this reason a car engine or other type of internal combustion engine should never be operated in an enclosed area, such as a garage.


A person exposed to carbon monoxide may complain of dizziness, headache, nausea, sleepiness, fatigue and flu-like or similar symptoms. In extreme cases, carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal.


If you think you have a carbon monoxide problem in your home simply follow these steps:

  1. If your detector alarm sounds and you are experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, leave your home immediately and call Okaloosa Gas at 850-729-4700 for a CO test or 911 to seek medical attention, if necessary.

  2. If you have no symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and your detector alarm sounds, first check the detector. Push the reset button (if available); turn off appliances or other sources of combustion. Open windows and/or doors to get fresh air to the building and contact Okaloosa Gas at 850-729-4700 for a CO test.

  3. If you think you have symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and you do not have a detector, leave your home immediately and call Okaloosa Gas at 850-729-4700 for a CO test or 911 to seek medical attention, if necessary.


Burning solid fuels also normally produces some carbon monoxide, so it is important that fireplace chimneys are unobstructed and that wood and charcoal are never burned in an indoor area without proper venting. Portable gas grills intended for outside use should never be used indoors, or in a garage or similar building.


When natural gas is used in a properly adjusted burner with an adequate air supply, its primary by-products are carbon dioxide and water vapor, the same substances that are exhaled when we breathe. However, when not enough air is available to support combustion, less carbon dioxide is produced and carbon monoxide is produced instead. Carbon monoxide can be dangerous, but proper use and maintenance of appliances and equipment can ensure their continued safe operation.


Should I buy a CO alarm if I have natural gas equipment?

Yes, every home should have a CO alarm; they are recommended in homes with fuel burning appliances such as a furnace, water heater, range, cooktop or grill. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, natural gas and propane (or LP gas) equipment is responsible for about 140 fatalities from CO poisoning every year. About 53 million American homes have natural gas service. That means the chance of a CO fatality related to natural gas equipment is about one in 4 million.


You can buy CO alarms at hardware and home improvement stores and online. Check the package to make sure CO alarms meet Underwriters Laboratories Standard 2034. Also, look up the date of manufacture on the back of the alarms, these devices lose their sensitivity over time, so the fresher the better.

However, a CO alarm should never be substituted for the safe use of equipment and an annual inspection of heating and cooking equipment by a qualified technician.


Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

  • Purchase carbon monoxide detectors.

  • Be sure all fuel-burning equipment is installed, adjusted and operating properly.

  • Have appliances installed by a professional, and carefully follow manufacturer instructions.

  • Do not cut off or restrict combustion air sources to appliances.

  • Equipment should be inspected regularly by a professional heating or appliance contractor.

  • Provide adequate ventilation in the house when using stoves, fireplaces or unvented space heaters.

  • Never burn charcoal indoors or in an enclosed space.

  • Clean the chimney and check for blockage, especially with wood burning fireplaces and stoves.

  • Open the garage door before starting your vehicle.

Carbon Monoxide Safety