NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE FIRE MARSHALS

A Strong United Voice for Fire Prevention



Carbon Monoxide: The Invisible Killer

Claiming 400 Lives Annually, the NASFM is Leading Efforts to Raise Awareness of the “Invisible Killer”: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a proven dangerous threat, claiming approximately 450 lives annually, with another 21,000 Americans sent to emergency rooms due to unintentional poisonings, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), along with Safe Kids, has established the Awareness Week and is leading the charge to bring increased awareness to this “Invisible Killer.” Per the CDC, CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America, and because CO is an odorless, tasteless and colorless gas, many people are initially unaware they are even being poisoned. 

“It’s important we all pay close attention to the potentially fatal effects of CO poisoning,” said NASFM President and Florida Director of the Division of State Fire Marshals, Julius Halas. “especially as we all begin to use home heating devices as colder weather approaches.”


CO is produced anytime a fuel is burned. Potential sources of CO include gas or oil furnaces, water heaters, space heaters, clothes dryers, barbecue grills, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, gas ovens, generators, and car exhaust fumes. CO bonds to hemoglobin in red blood cells and prevents oxygen from reaching vital organs, such as the brain and heart, causing dizziness, headache, and other flu-like symptoms. At high concentration levels, CO can cause loss of consciousness and even death, and people who are sleeping or intoxicated are more susceptible to succumbing to CO poisoning.

“Winter can be a deadly time when it comes to CO poisoning, so it’s important to take steps now to protect your family,” Browning said. “During the winter months, we are all more likely to use fireplaces, propane heaters and furnaces to help heat our homes.”

If not properly ventilated and maintained, NASFM reminds you fuel-burning appliances can emit deadly levels of CO. Additionally, idling your vehicle or running a gas-powered generator in an attached garage can also lead to increased levels of CO, which allow fumes to seep into your home through doors or floorboards.  “The only safe way to detect CO is with a properly functioning and maintained CO alarm,” added Browning. 

Distinguished fire safety experts, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), recommend installing a CO alarm on every level of the home and near sleeping areas. Other safety tips include:

  • Having furnaces and all gas-powered devices inspected and maintained annually
  • If the CO alarm sounds, leave the house immediately. Call 911 or the fire department after you are in a safe location with fresh air. Remain outside or by an open window until emergency personnel arrive. 
  • Test your CO alarm monthly and replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If you do need to turn on your vehicle to warm it up, make sure to take it out of the garage to do so. Even if the garage door is open, don’t leave it sitting in the garage while the engine’s running.
  • Check the vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace outside of your home to make sure they’re clear of any snow, leaves or other debris.
  • Never use a generator indoors, and always ensure exhaust from the generator when used outside is not directed toward a door or window.

For more information about National CO Awareness Week, including tips and best practices on how to protect you and your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, visit www.carbonmonoxidefacts.com.

New Mailing Address

Please note our new mailing address and forward all future correspondence to this address.  Thank you!

National Association of State Fire Marshals
P.O. Box 948238
Maitland, FL 32794

News from NASFM

  • The 2020 NASFM Annual Conference will be held at the Stoweflake Resort in Stowe, Vermont July 27th - 29th, 2020.
  • Principal Members:

    Arizona: Josiah Brant, State Fire Marshal

    New Mexico: Don Shainin, State Fire Marshal

    Alaska: Richard Boothby, State Fire Marshal

    Wisconsin: Lisa Wilson, State Fire Marshal

    Georgia: Jeff Hogan, State Fire Marshal

    Nebraska: Chris Cantrell, State Fire Marshal

Upcoming Events

August 7, 2019 - Construction Site Fire Safety Training Program - Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office / Associated Builders and Contractors of IN/KY

August 8-11, 2019 - FRI Conference

August 12, 2019 - Construction Site Fire Safety Training Program - Massachusetts State Fire Marshal's Office / Division of Fire Safety, Department of Fire Services 

August 14, 2019 - Construction Site Fire Safety Training Program - Vermont State Fire Marshal's Office 

September 24-25  - NAFTD Conference


National Association of State Fire Marshals
PO Box 948238
Maitland, FL  32794
Phone: 202.737.1226

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