New Jersey Department of Health

PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Cathleen D. Bennett

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

New Jersey Department of Health Reminds Residents about the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Exposure

The New Jersey Department of Health would like to remind residents about the dangers of carbon monoxide exposure during cold weather and winter storms.

Carbon monoxide (often referred to as CO) is a colorless, odorless gas produced by burning material containing carbon. High levels of carbon monoxide can cause brain damage and death. It cannot be seen, heard or smelt which is why it has been nicknamed the "silent killer."  

“Generators should never be used indoors or in enclosed environments because of the potential for undetected buildup of poisonous carbon monoxide gas,” Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett said. “Residents living in homes with gas-powered appliances and fireplaces should be sure carbon monoxide detectors are installed and working properly.” 

Carbon monoxide can be produced by improperly vented household appliances, such as furnaces, stoves, hot water heaters and gas-powered generators. Emergency generators should be located at least 30 feet from buildings and should not exhaust near doors and windows. Annual inspection and maintenance of furnaces, stoves and fireplaces should be performed by a qualified licensed professional on all gas-powered household heaters.

Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, such as headaches, nausea, and fatigue, can be mistaken for the flu. If a person remains in an area where high levels of carbon monoxide are present, it can lead to brain damage and even death.

In addition to household appliances, the most common sources of CO are motor vehicle exhaust, smoke from fires, engine fumes and non-electric heaters. Carbon monoxide exposure is often associated with malfunctioning or obstructed exhaust systems.

“It is very important, especially during the winter months, to make sure all heating systems are properly vented and well-maintained,” Commissioner Bennett said.

It is also important to have CO alarms installed throughout homes and other living spaces. Installation of battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms or plug-in carbon monoxide alarms with battery backup should follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Smoke alarms cannot detect carbon monoxide gas.

For more information about carbon monoxide exposure, visit

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