As Daylight Saving Time ends this weekend (November 5, 2017), Melissa Smith, RN, BSN, Director of Virginia Gay Home Health/Benton County Public Health shares this message from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) urging Iowans to install new or check existing carbon monoxide (CO) detectors as they turn back their clocks.

“CO detectors are to carbon monoxide gas what smoke alarms are to fire,” said IDPH Environmental Health Services Bureau Chief Carmily Stone. “These simple alarms save lives because CO gas has no smell or taste. At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes.”

Symptoms of exposure to carbon monoxide include headaches, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and confusion. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning or your detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.

According to the Iowa Public Health Tracking program, carbon monoxide poisoning causes an average of 35 deaths and 300 emergency department visits each year in Iowa. Protect your family from carbon monoxide:

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home near every sleeping area and change the batteries every six months. Most hardware stores sell these detectors.
  • Hire a professional annually to make sure your furnace and/or wood-burning stove is functionally sound and vents properly outside the home.
  • Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or in an unventilated garage. Any heating system that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, RVs and boats with enclosed cabins.
  • Never run a car in an enclosed space. If a vehicle is running, you must have a door open to the outside.
  • Run generators a safe distance from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.

For more information, data and resources about carbon monoxide, visit

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