Carbon Monoxide, What You Need To Know.

Carbon Monoxide - Deadly - But Very Detectable!

Fighting a foe is challenging. Fighting an invisible foe is fraught with even greater difficulties. The stakes are raised even higher when this foe turns deadly. This pandemic we are living through is a perfect example. Defenses like the mighty walls of Jericho are pointless against an odorless, colorless, and tasteless enemy produced within our homes by devices we put there. At best we can hope this foe unwittingly reveals itself once it begins circulating. Fortunately, the harmful presence of Carbon Monoxide (CO) is extremely detectable allowing us the upper hand even when our guards might be down.

This scenario to play out within our midst due to our necessity for fuel, specifically fossil fuels like natural gas, wood, coal, propane, charcoal, gasoline, kerosene, and oil. When these fuels fail to be burned fully (insufficient amounts of oxygen), an off gas of carbon monoxide is produced. Once in our blood stream, this carbon molecule is picked up quicker than oxygen by our hemoglobin becoming carboxyhemoglobin which depletes the protein’s capacity to carry oxygen to cells and organs. 

It is well documented carbon monoxide poisoning is the second most common cause of non-medicinal poisonings deaths. According to the CDC, over 450 die annually from carbon monoxide asphyxiation and between 10,000-50,000 are poisoned by carbon monoxide needing medical treatment. Historically January is the deadly month of all with two deaths daily, three times the national fatality rate when contrasted with July and August.


·    All fossil fuel burning appliances

·    Gas stove and ovens

·    Stand by generation (natural gas & propane)

·    Gasoline Portable generator

·    Gas fired furnace

·    Wood burning fireplace

·    Wood burning stoves/room heaters

·    Natural gas fired fireplaces

·    Propane heaters

·    Charcoal fired barbeques

·    Propane camping lanterns and stoves

·    Oil fired lanterns


Common symptoms of CO poisoning include but not limited to:

·    acute disorientation

·    lightheadedness/dizziness

·    headaches

·    vomiting

·    nauseated stomach

·    general malaise

·    muscle weakness.

·    Chest pains, occasionally mistaken as the early onset of a heart attack

·    Shortness of breath of difficulty breathing

Those sleeping or having consumed alcohol may have none of these characterizable symptoms.

If you suspect CO poisoning within your home, leave immediately and call 911. Even though you see, smell or taste nothing, trust your alarm, it is your first line of defense. Delaying this simple step could subject more family members and yourself to the same conditions. Should any of your family members exhibit signs of poisoning (dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated), seek prompt medical attention at an urgent care facility or emergency room.



·    run your car in or near the garage

·    use your oven or stove to heat your home

·    run your portable generator within 20 feet of a door or window

·    allow any gasoline powered equipment to idle near or in the house

·    use a propane heater (salamander) indoors


·    have your furnace/boiler serviced annually if not twice a year

·    keep vents and flues open and free of debris (chimney cleaning)

·    double check your fireplace flue is open before starting a fire and remains open until the final embers burn out

·    maintain plenty of ventilation when using fossil burning equipment

·    keep barbeques-propane, gas, or charcoal far from doors/windows

·    install carbon monoxide alarms in the specified locations found in The Fire Code of New York State. More explanation is below.


Whether new or existing, all residential dwellings in NY State are required to have CO alarms. Unlike the requirements for smoke alarms found in the Residential Code of New York State, CO alarms requirements are found in Section 915 of the Fire Code of New York State. 

Much confusion surrounds the location of these alarms. Below is the exact wording broken out of paragraph format into understandable segments.

·    “In a dwelling unit or sleeping unit that contains a carbon monoxide source (i.e. fireplace, furnace, boiler, gas stove etc.) a carbon monoxide alarm shall be provided on each story that contains a sleeping area.”

·    “The carbon monoxide alarm shall be located within 15 feet of the sleeping area.”

·    “More than one carbon monoxide alarm shall be provided where necessary to assure that no sleeping area on such story is more than 15 feet away from a carbon monoxide alarm.”

·    “In addition, a carbon monoxide alarm shall be provided within each sleeping area that contains a carbon monoxide source.”

For further understanding of the specific state requirements, please see;

As mentioned in the previous installment of this series, effective April 1st, 2019, all new or replacement carbon monoxide alarms offered for sale in New York State must either be powered by a sealed, non-removable battery with a minimum battery life of 10 years or hard-wired to the building.”


CO gas is just slightly lighter than normal room air meaning it will naturally rise from lower levels to higher levels in a home. Although some CO alarms plug into wall outlets, the optimal height begins at 5 feet off the floor and continues up to ceiling levels. Among the required locations specified by the Fire Code of New York State (no greater than 15 outside of sleeping areas etc.) placing an additional CO alarm at the top of stairway is a good strategy for enhanced early detection.

Carbon Monoxide poisoning is 100% preventable! You can protect yourself and your family by:

·    learning the symptoms of CO poisoning and teaching them to family members

·    installing up-to-date carbon monoxide alarms with a 10-year, self-enclosed, non-replaceable battery.

Unsure of how to apply these requirements to your home? Contact a Lippolis Electric specialist to come evaluate your residence, offer helpful suggestions, and propose a course of action that will give the peace of mind so difficult to come by in the challenging times. 


Lippolis Electric, Inc. | 538 Route 22, Pawling, NY 12564 | 845-855-1426 |