Champaign Fire Department Offers Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips

Carbon monoxide is invisible and deadly. You can’t see it. You can’t smell it. You can’t taste it. Often the problem isn’t recognized until it is too late. According to Champaign Fire Marshal John Koller the City of Champaign Fire Department responded to 253 calls involving carbon monoxide (CO) in 2014. Of the 253 calls, 51 were identified as having dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide of over 35 parts per million. Thirty-five parts per million is the standard setting for carbon monoxide detectors to warn people to leave the area and call 9-1-1.

Carbon monoxide may be produced by faulty furnaces, stoves, fire places or water heaters. It is a by-product of incomplete burning and additionally found in exhaust from vehicles, snow blowers, and lawn mowers. 


Compare the different types of carbon monoxide alarms:

Plug-in models load into an electrical outlet. Some have a battery   backup in case the power goes out.

Battery powered models should be mounted on the wall or ceiling per the manufacturer’s recommendations. REMEMBER to check the batteries once a month.

Read the labels carefully, looking for the seal of an independent testing agency such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM).

Smoke detector / Carbon monoxide detector combination units are a good option if the smoke alarm also needs replaced due to its age. 


Install carbon monoxide detectors within 15 feet of sleeping areas and on every floor of the home. Locate alarms at least 5 to 6 feet away from fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces or water heaters and follow manufacturer’s recommendations.

Carbon monoxide will diffuse across a room, allowing a working carbon monoxide detector to be placed at any height. 

This is different than the smoke alarm that must be placed high to capture the first signs of smoke–which rises. 

CO Signs and Symptoms:

Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. More significant poisoning symptoms include a throbbing headache, drowsiness, confusion and heart irregularities. Severe poisoning can cause convulsions, unconsciousness, brain damage and death.

CO poisoning usually occurs slowly over a period of several hours. However, at very high concentrations, carbon monoxide can kill in minutes. 

Prevention is Key:

Maintain fuel-burning appliances. Have a qualified professional inspect and clean heating systems and chimneys annually.

Watch for signs of carbon monoxide problems in the home:

  • A soot buildup near fuel-burning appliances.
  • A burning smell or other unusual odor.
  • An appliance continually shutting off.
  • A yellow-looking flame on a gas appliance.

Use fuel-burning appliances and vehicles correctly.

  • Use a charcoal or gas grill outdoors only.
  • Vent a fuel burning heater to the outside.
  • Vent a gas range to the outside.
  • Use a gas range or oven for cooking only, never for heating.
  • Never leave a vehicle running in the garage even with the garage door up.
  • Always start gas fired yard equipment outdoors.

For questions regarding this media release contact: John Koller, Fire Marshal, Phone: (217) 403-7210