What should you do if the CO detector alarm sounds?

First of all, never ignore an alarm and do not panic! Although exposure to high levels of CO over prolonged periods of time can be life-threatening, a large number of instances that activate the CO alarm are not life-threatening and do not require calling 911. To determine the need to call 911, ask the following question to everyone in the household.

Are you feeling sick and/or experiencing the "flu-like" symptoms of dizziness, nausea, or headaches?

If Yes: Immediately evacuate the household to a safe location and call 911. The best initial treatment for CO exposure is fresh air followed by treatment from a physician.

If No: The likelihood of a serious exposure is greatly reduced and calling 911 is not necessary at this time. Instead, turn off any gas appliances or equipment and open doors and windows to help ventilate your home with fresh air from outside. After completing this, occupants are urged to contact your local gas utility company (e.g., MGE at (608) 252-1111) or a qualified heating and ventilating service contractor to inspect your system for possible problems. Note: If at any time during this process someone in your household experiences "flu-like" symptoms, immediately evacuate the home and call 911.


For additional questions on Carbon Monoxide safety in your home, please contact the City of Madison Fire Department's Community Education Unit at (608) 266-4420.