Carbon Monoxide

Carbon MonoxideAccording to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), each year more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to CO poisoning. Fatality is highest among Americans 65 and older.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, dizziness, fatigue/weakness, sleepiness and mental confusion, nausea/vomiting, irregular breathing, chest pain, faintness, or loss of consciousness. If you feel these symptoms, get fresh air immediately. Consult a physician if the symptoms are mild. If the symptoms are severe, call 911. Donít ignore the symptoms, especially if more than one person is feeling them.

Anytime fueled appliances (water heaters, furnaces, clothes dryers, range/stove, fireplaces, wood stoves, etc.) are used in the house, there is potential for CO buildup if the appliances are not properly vented to the outside.

What can you do to prevent this from happening in your home?

  • Install a CO detector in your home
  • Never use portable fueled/unvented heaters in your home or recreational vehicle. These will cause a CO buildup and may also deplete the oxygen to dangerously low levels
  • Never use a gas oven to heat your home
  • Never use charcoal or propane fueled barbeques indoors
  • Never idle the car in the garage for extended periods of time or with the garage door closed
  • Never use a generator in your home
  • Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys blocked by debris can cause CO to build up inside your home or cabin
  • Have your fuel-fired appliances inspected by a trained technician for proper venting

Beginning July 1, 2010, there are new Oregon State requirements for carbon monoxide alarms for rentals and homes that are sold. You can view all the requirements at the following link:

Additional Department Information

Fire and Life Safety Department Contacts

Medford Fire-Rescue Fire & Life Safety Division
200 South Ivy Street, Room #180
Medford, OR 97501
Phone: (541) 774-2300
Fax: (541) 774-2514
Contact: Deputy Chief - Fire Marshal Greg Kleinberg
Hours: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

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