November 20, 2013

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Carbon Monoxide: The Invisible Winter Hazard

KDHE Bureau of Environmental Health and Safe Kids Kansas Recommend Home CO Detectors

TOPEKA, Kan. - With the arrival of the holiday season comes the arrival of colder weather, as well as an increase in the number of fuel-burning appliances being used in the home. These appliances include furnaces, ovens, space heaters, generators, indoor grills and fireplaces, and they can cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (CO) to build up in the home.

According to the CDC, children younger than 5 years old have the highest estimated rate of CO-related visits to the emergency room each year among all age groups in the United States. Nationally, more than 25 children die from CO poisoning every year. In Kansas, over 500 people have been hospitalized and 4 people have died from CO poisoning over the past 10 years.

“Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer that often strikes us where we feel most secure, in our homes,” says Tom Langer, Director of the Bureau of Environmental Health at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). “Faulty heating systems, water heaters, stoves and our cars are leading sources of combustion gases that can quickly overwhelm us and do us great harm.”

Important safety tips to protect families from CO poisoning:

If more than one person in the home suddenly feels ill for no apparent reason, or if a CO alarm goes off, get everyone outside immediately and call 911 from a pre-arranged meeting place.

“CO alarms are widely available at hardware and retail stores for about $20,” says Cherie Sage, Safe Kids Kansas. “Because the symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to that of the flu, it’s important to have early detection of this invisible danger in the home before it’s too late.”

For more information about CO poisoning, visit and, or call the Poison Control Hotline at (800) 222-1222.