Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a gas that can cause sickness, coma or death when it builds up in enclosed spaces. It is not seen, does not smell and cannot be tasted. Warning signs of poisoning include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion, but no fever. Carbon monoxide exposure results in over 100 emergency department visits each year in Maine. Every home in Maine should have a carbon monoxide detector--about half of Maine homes do not have a carbon monoxide detector.
For the Public
- Fact sheet: Protect yourself and your familiy from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. (pdf*)
- Press Release: Big Increases in Carbon Monoxide Detector Use Credited to Landlords and State Law (Nov. 2011)
- To Avoid CO Poisoning During Power Outages:
- Place generators outdoors in a well ventilated location.
- Ensure the generator is at least 15 feet away from home windows or doors, including those of neighboring homes and buildings.
- Ensure the generator is not place in an enclosed or semi-enclosed space (such as basement, cellar bulkhead, attached garage) where carbon monoxide can build up to dangerous levels.
- Use kerosene heaters in a well ventilated room, by either keeping doors to other rooms open or keeping a window partially open (at least 1 inch) Use only K-1 grade fuel in kerosene heaters Follow instructions for setting the wick height.
- Do not use outdoor cooking devices indoors (such as gas or charcoal grills, gas camp stoves).
- Do not use indoor gas cooking stoves for heat.
- Keep chimney flue and a window open when burning decorative gas fireplace logs as a heat source.
- Place an electric carbon monoxide detector with battery back-up power outside each sleeping area. CO detectors are available in most stores. Look for the UL mark with the "Single Station Carbon Monoxide Alarm" statement. By law, all rental units must have a CO detector. Talk to your landlord if you dont have one in your apartment or rental house. (Read the law.)
For Health Care Providers
- Press Release for Emergency Departments 2007 (pdf*) Signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Site
- Public Service Announcements to prevent carbon monxide poisoning
- Consumer Product Safety Commission: CO Detectors Save Lives
- Consumer Product Safety Commission: Portable Generator Safety
- National Institute of Standards and Technology: How Close is too Close for Portable Generators? (video)