Dept. of Health Services: Carbon monoxide threat grows in cold weather

CONTACT: Beth Kaplan

(608) 266-1683

State Law Now Requires Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Homes

MADISON – With the return of chilly temperatures, health officials today reminded people to be aware of carbon monoxide (CO) dangers, and check their compliance with state law now requiring carbon monoxide detectors in residences.

“The presence of carbon monoxide in homes is more common than people realize, especially during the cold weather months,” said Dr. Henry Anderson, Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Health Services. “The easiest way to protect yourself and your family is with a carbon monoxide detector.”

State law requires all one and two-family dwellings to have carbon monoxide alarms. Newly constructed homes require CO detectors that are directly wired to the home’s electrical service and existing homes may use battery-powered, stand-alone detectors. State law also includes a similar requirement for multi-family dwellings.

Detectors work like smoke alarms to alert you to dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide. Battery powered portable CO detectors are also available for use away from home. Health officials recommend installing CO detectors on every level of your home and near sleeping areas. If your CO detector sounds an alarm, you should immediately move to fresh air and call 9-1-1.

CO is a colorless, odorless gas that can be emitted from poorly functioning or unvented furnaces or other gas powered home appliances. Outdoor appliances such as portable generators, heaters, and stoves, can also create dangerous levels of CO in cabins, campers, tents, and hunting and fishing shacks.

Symptoms of CO poisoning are flu-like and include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and mental confusion. High levels of exposure may lead to more serious health problems, including loss of consciousness and death.

Winter weather safety tips and information on carbon monoxide from the Department of Health Services:

Information on CO detector requirements: