At this time of the year, the number of carbon monoxide poisonings increases. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and poisonous gas. Because you can’t see, taste or smell the poisonous fumes, carbon monoxide can kill you before you recognize it.

To reduce the chance of carbon monoxide poisoning, use gas appliances correctly, open fireplace flues, choose properly sized wood stoves that are EPA certified, and never idle a vehicle or run a generator in a building. It’s also wise to have furnaces, flues, and chimneys professionally inspected annually.

At first, carbon monoxide causes headache, dizziness, nausea and sleepiness. These vague symptoms will worsen as the person’s blood oxygen level drops. If you suspect carbon monoxide is present, go outside or to a well-ventilated area with open windows. If symptoms get worse, if anyone in the home begins to turn a dark cherry-red color or if someone in the home passes out, get everyone out quickly and call 911.

For questions on this or other issues related to staying healthy in your home, contact Environmental Health at Dallas County Public Health, 515-993-3750. Further information is available from the Iowa Department of Public Health at