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Ask the Pediatrician

Dr. Jennifer Shu and her team of pediatricians answer your health questions.

Dr. Jennifer Shu

Question & Answer

Question

What do I do if my CO detector alarms?

Answer

‚ÄčNever ignore an alarming carbon monoxide (CO) detector/alarm.

If the CO detector goes off:

  • Make sure it is your CO detector and not your smoke detector.
  • Check to see if any member of the household is experiencing symptoms of poisoning.
  • If they are, get them out of the house immediately and call 911. Seek medical attention at an emergency department. Tell the doctor that you suspect CO poisoning.
  • If no one is feeling symptoms, ventilate the home with fresh air, turn off all potential sources of CO, including oil or gas furnace, gas water heater, gas range, oven, gas dryer, gas or kerosene space heater, and any vehicle or small engine.
  • Have a qualified technician inspect your fuel-burning appliances and chimneys to make sure they are operating correctly and that there is nothing blocking the fumes from being vented out of the house. Checking appliances and other possible CO sources should be done before they are turned back on.

Source: Pediatric Environmental Health, 3rd Edition (Copyright © American Academy of Pediatrics 2011)