Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that can kill without warning, so it's important to understand carbon monoxide sources. It is colorless, tasteless and odorless so people do not often realize they are breathing it in until it is too late.

It does exist in the atmosphere, but it is generally harmless since it is not concentrated. However, when your house is closed up and you have a CO leak, it is dangerous and deadly.

Carbon Monoxide sources in the household can include unvented kerosene heaters that are not working properly, blocked chimneys, furnaces that are not vented or used properly, and car exhaust.

Exposure to carbon monoxide sources in low doses can lead to fatigue. As the concentration increases, the symptoms worsen. Moderate exposure causes flu like symptoms. These symptoms are not permanent and disappear once you leave your house. At high concentrations, death often occurs. Unfortunately, most people are not even aware they are in danger. Most people just die in their sleep.

The best way to prevent carbon monoxide buildup is to maintain all boilers and heaters. Make sure they are vented properly, and there are no leaks. Always follow the directions when using an object that can become a carbon monoxide source and always use the proper fuels in them.

If your garage is connected to the house, make sure it is vented properly. Never idle the car with the garage door closed. In fact, it is a good idea not to idle the car in the garage to begin with.

Regular inspection of known sources is also a good idea.  In addition, carbon monoxide detectors should be in every house, especially near possible carbon monoxide sources. They are inexpensive and are generally the only way to warn you if there is a leak. If the carbon monoxide detector does go off, open some windows as a temporary measure and leave the house. Get someone in the house to inspect it and fix the source of the leak.

In conclusion, usually items that are carbon monoxide sources are safe to use in your house as long as they are regularly inspected to assure they are working properly. They should also be used as directed.