Be Aware of Winter’s Silent Killer

Dee Jepsen – State Agricultural Safety and Health Leader

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is often called the silent killer, because of its invisible features. As a gas, CO emits no color or odor, and is very common in many U.S. homes, offices, garages and farm shops during the winter months.

CO is produced when fuels are burned, such as gasoline, kerosene, propane, natural gas, fuel oil, wood, and charcoal. Culprits that emit deadly concentrations of this gas are common household items, including automobiles, gas powered generators, furnaces and chimneys. More than 200 people die each year in the U.S. from incidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

CO inhalation is easily preventable, yet it accounts for 50% of all fatal poisonings.
During winter months, it is especially important to be aware this gas may exist. And it is important to take steps towards prevention:
• Install one carbon monoxide detector in your home or office, and another in the garage or workshop.
• Test your CO detector each month.
• Change the batteries of your CO detector twice a year. A good reminder, is when you change your clocks each season, also change out the batteries.  
Other ways to keep CO in check include:
•  Have annual inspections on chimneys or furnaces, to be sure there are no blockages, corrosion, leaks or loose connections.
•  Gas-powered heaters should be used in well-ventilated spaces, never in closed barns, workshops or garages.
• Open the fireplace flue completely when it is in use.
• “Warm-up” your car in open spaces – either outside the garage, or by opening the garage door.
Smoke detectors are also recommended for the same areas as a CO monitor. Together, these devices alert provide a quick alert for people to leave the area.
For additional information, contact Dee Jepsen at or 614-292-6008.