The Quiet Killer

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is extremely poisonous and can kill within minutes. In the US each year, nearly 500 die while as many as 20,000 visit emergency rooms for exposure primarily from poorly-maintained heating systems or gas stoves and gas-powered generators used for heat or power during storms.


[Announcer] CDC-TV presents Health Matters.
[Dr. Fuyuen Yip] Each year in the United States, approximately 20,000 people go to the
emergency room for carbon monoxide poisoning.
[Dr. Paul Garbe] Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas; it’s extremely poisonous and it
can kill you in minutes, if you’re exposed to it.
[Dr. Fuyuen Yip] Nearly 500 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning.
[Announcer] Fire and Rescue Captain Antonio Burden is a first responder and has been a victim
of a CO leak in his home.
[Captain Antonio Burden] It’s a strange feeling – once you start, you know, feeling dizzy. Then
you get a tremendous headache. You also start experiencing nausea and that nausea can lead to
other symptoms.
[Dr. Paul Garbe] In a really severe case of carbon monoxide poisoning, someone could lose
consciousness or die within minutes.
[Announcer] Hurricanes or severe storms can trigger power outages that last for days. Some
people fire up a generator for power or a gas stove to heat their home, but fail to realize the
[Dr. Robert Geller] It’s one thing to be cold, it’s another thing to be seriously ill and need critical
[Dr. Paul Garbe] Never use your oven to heat your home. It could be a source of carbon
monoxide for you. It’s dangerous. Don’t do it.
[Dr. Fuyuen Yip] Make sure that their appliances and heating devices are properly vented and
maintained by a professional.
[Dr. Paul Garbe] Dangers from poorly-maintained heating systems are really going to be the
number one cause of carbon monoxide poisonings in the United States.
[Dr. Fuyuen Yip] CDC suggests that generators be placed outdoors.
[Dr. Paul Garbe] We recommend at least 25 feet away from your house. The best is as far away
from your home as possible. So if, your power cord is 50 feet, I would put my generator 50 feet
away from my house if I were using it.
[Announcer] There are actions to protect your family.
[Dr. Paul Garbe] CDC recommends that all homes have carbon monoxide detectors. I think it’s a
great investment. It’s particularly important that you have carbon monoxide detectors near where
people sleep at night. The worst location for a carbon monoxide detector is in the box without a
[Dr. Fuyuen Yip] Most importantly, when you go to purchase a CO detector, make sure that it is
specifically for carbon monoxide.
[Dr. Paul Garbe] The other important thing is that it’s battery operated. If it is an A/C operated
detector, it’s important that it also have a battery back-up.
[Dr. Fuyuen Yip] Running your car in the garage, even with the garage door open, is not safe.
[Dr. Paul Garbe] If you have to get your car warmed up in the winter time, make sure it’s parked
in the driveway, well away from the house.
[Dr. Robert Geller] Carbon monoxide makes people sick; it kills people and is completely