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Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning

If you have additional questions about carbon monoxide, please contact Mark Jones.
Call: (801)-538-6191.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness or death if inhaled.

Carbon monoxide gas can build up in improperly vented enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces. Death resulting from carbon monoxide is preventable if proper measures are taken, such as always having a working carbon monoxide detector in your home or work.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur suddenly and can be difficult to diagnose immediately. Knowing the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can save lives.

Breathing in excess carbon monoxide leads to a lack of oxygen in the body and can quickly lead to tissue damage and death. When you know the symptoms you can save lives, especially because carbon monoxide poisoning is similar to symptoms of other illnesses.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Upset stomach and vomiting
  • Weakness
  • The disappearance of symptoms when people leave the area for a sufficient period of time.

At higher concentrations, carbon monoxide poisoning can result in loss of consciousness and death. People who are asleep or intoxicated can die from carbon monoxide poisoning before they ever experience symptoms.

If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, quickly get to fresh air and call the Utah Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222, or 911.
Although carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable, emergency department visits and deaths still happen each year. In Utah, there were 253 emergency department visits reported in 2019 for carbon monoxide poisoning. In that same year there were 4 deaths reported as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home to reduce the chance of carbon monoxide poisoning. One of the most effective preventive solutions to carbon monoxide poisoning is to have, properly install, and routinely check your household carbon monoxide detectors. Household detectors are affordable and can be purchased at most grocery and home improvement stores.
Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of combustion and present in combustion fumes. Whenever there is a combustion, some carbon monoxide gas is produced. Carbon monoxide is present in combustion fumes produced by cars, trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, gas ranges, and heating systems. Carbon monoxide poisoning is of particular concern during emergency situations, such as power outages or natural disasters. This is because generators, charcoal-burning devices, and gasoline-powered equipment produce carbon monoxide. To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, never operate these devices inside your home, basement, garage, camper, or even outside near an open window.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can also occur outdoors in fresh air and has been reported while boating. In this case, carbon monoxide poisoning is attributed mostly to generator exhaust that builds up inside and outside a boat in areas near exhaust vents. Dangerous concentrations of carbon monoxide can accumulate within seconds. Therefore, schedule regular engine and exhaust system maintenance for your boat. Install and maintain a working CO detector listed by Underwriters' Laboratories (UL) as appropriate for marine use inside the boat.

Even though everybody is susceptible to CO poisoning, some people are especially vulnerable.

Unborn babies, infants, and people with respiratory problems, chronic heart disease, or anemia are more likely to get sick from carbon monoxide. Americans ages 65 and older have the highest risk of death from CO poisoning.
Follow these recommendations to reduce your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Install a battery-operated or battery backup carbon monoxide detector in your home. Install at least one CO detector on each level of your home, including the basement, and near sleeping areas. Test the detectors regularly. If the alarm goes off, leave your home immediately and call 911. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.
  • Place carbon monoxide detectors near every sleeping area in your home.
  • Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms include feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.

Do not
  • Do not use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, tent, garage, or even near an open window.
  • Do not run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the garage door open.
  • Do not burn anything in an unvented space.
  • Do not heat your house with a gas oven. Gas ovens release small amounts of carbon monoxide. CO concentration can increase as the gas oven is on for a long period of time and can lead to CO poisoning.


Number of ED visits for CO poisoning

Crude rates of ED visits for CO poisoning

Age-adjusted rates of ED visits for CO poisoning

Number of hospitalizations for CO poisoning

Crude rates of hospitalizations for CO poisoning

Age-adjusted rates of hospitalizations for CO poisoning

Number of deaths from CO poisoning

Crude rates of deaths from CO poisoning

Age-adjusted rates of deaths from CO poisoning

Utah Tracking displays data on the number of emergency department visits and inpatient hospitalizations due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Utah Tracking also receives data on carbon monoxide exposure reported to the Poison Control Center and carbon monoxide mortality information reported by the Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of Vital Records and Statistics.

There is also survey data on how many Utah residents report having at least one carbon monoxide detector in their home.

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The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Mon, 15 April 2024 0:05:22 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Fri, 29 Jul 2022 10:25:07 MDT