An odorless, invisible, deadly gas: Carbon Monoxide

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be fatal if too much of it is inhaled. It is created when there is an incomplete combustion. The gas can come from many sources.


"Generally… from a generator, from a furnace that is malfunctioning, we have seen people leave their vehicles running inside garages, and even a charcoal grill if it is not completely put out will continue to give off CO," said Captain Joy Cottle with the Fairbanks Fire Department.

While humans can’t detect the gas, Cottle says they can notice symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, and if it is really bad, vomiting or even losing consciousness. If the exposure lasts too long, it will ultimately lead to death.

Cottle said that if people suspect they may be suffering from carbon monoxide to call the fire department and they will bring equipment to test for the gas.

"If we do find a problem then we'll help you identify the source of the CO and then we will blow all the bad air out and hopefully get some fresh air into you," Cottle said.

The fire department will also test people to see how much carbon monoxide is in their blood. Carbon monoxide will build up in the bloodstream and limit the amount of oxygen. If there is too much of the gas, Cottle says that treatment may be needed.

The best way to protect from carbon monoxide is to have CO detectors in your house, “at least one outside every sleeping area," Cottle said. The monitors are either stand-alones or combined with smoke detectors.

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