The Silent Killer – Carbon Monoxide

Lisa Pfeifer – OSU Ag Safety and Health Education Coordinator

Winter is a time when fuel-burning devices are at peak utilization and along with that come the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. The Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of State Fire Marshal, lists examples of devices the may produce dangerous levels of CO gas as:

  • Fuel fired furnaces (non-electric)
  • Gas water heaters
  • Generators
  • Fireplaces and wood stoves
  • Gas stoves
  • Non-electric space heaters
  • Gas dryers
  • Charcoal grills
  • Lawnmowers, snowblowers, etc.
  • Automobiles

Carbon monoxide cannot be detected without a carbon monoxide detector/alarm. It can present like any other illness. Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, call 911 or consult a health care professional.

Helpful resources with more in-depth information can be found at:

The Ohio Committee For Severe Weather Awareness website,

The Ohio Department of Commerce website,

The American Red Cross website,

Questions about OSU Ag Safety, visit or contact Lisa Pfeifer, OSU Agricultural Safety & Health, at or 614-292-9455.