Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

January 17, 2020
Contact: John Lyon, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
                 Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512


NEW CITY, NY - - Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert urge residents to protect themselves from the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO). It is a poisonous gas known as the 'silent killer' since you can't see it, smell it, or taste it. Carbon monoxide can come from anything that burns fuels, especially if it is not used or vented in the right way. Examples include furnaces, wood stoves, kerosene heaters, generators, gas-powered home appliances, gas-powered tools, gas and charcoal grills, and cars and trucks.

"Carbon monoxide poisoning can prevent the body from getting oxygen and can cause flu-like symptoms such as nausea, headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, sleepiness, and weakness. In large amounts, carbon monoxide can cause loss of consciousness (blacking out), brain damage, or death. Take these steps to protect yourself and your family," said Dr. Ruppert.

Install CO detectors on every level of your home, inside your bedroom or within 10 feet of the entrance to all bedrooms and sleeping areas:

  • Carbon monoxide detectors should be certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Carefully follow the instructions for installation, use, maintenance, and replacement.
  • Use battery-operated or plug-in electric carbon monoxide detectors. If you choose to install an electric carbon monoxide detector, it must have a battery backup, and it cannot be connected to an outlet controlled by a wall switch. Check your detector batteries twice a year.
  • Carbon monoxide detectors don't last forever! Check the date on your alarm, they are typically good for 5-7 years, but some are now good for ten years. Always refer to the manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Combination smoke/carbon monoxide detectors are fine.
  • If the alarm sounds, leave the building immediately into the fresh air and call 911.

Having a carbon monoxide detector is great - but not enough! You also need to take steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Never use a generator or other gasoline-powered equipment, including portable flameless catalytic heaters, inside your home or garage, basement, or any enclosed or semi-enclosed space even if doors and windows are open. Operate portable generators outdoors and downwind of buildings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a distance of at least 25 feet from the house window, door, or vent.
  • Never use a gas range or oven for warmth.
  • Never use a charcoal grill or a barbecue grill in your home or garage.
  • Never start up or run any gasoline-powered engines (snow blowers, generators, mowers, weed trimmers, chain saws, or other small motors) in enclosed spaces.
  • Ensure that heating systems and appliances are installed and serviced annually by qualified professionals. Never use a stove or fireplace unless it is properly installed and vented. Don't patch vent pipes in your home, cabin, camper, boat, or workplace with tape or gum. Chimneys should be checked and cleaned as needed. When renovating a home or repairing a roof, make sure that tarps or debris do not block vents and chimneys.
  • Never run your car or truck or motorcycle inside a garage that is attached to a house or in a detached garage even if the garage door is open. Remove vehicles from a garage immediately after starting them, even if the garage door is open. If you open the tailgate on a running SUV or similar vehicle, open the vents/windows to ensure airflow and exchange. If only the tailgate is open, CO from the exhaust could be pulled into the vehicle. Ensure that vehicle exhaust pipes are not blocked in or after a heavy snowstorm. Make sure vents for the furnace, stove, fireplace, and dryer are clear of snow.

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Open all windows and doors and get out of the building and into the fresh air.
  • Call the fire department and the gas company from outside the building.
  • Call 911 if you or someone else is experiencing symptoms, or take the ill person to the emergency room, and tell the doctor you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Rockland County Healthy Neighborhoods Program, a free program for low to moderate-income families and seniors, helps families reduce health and safety risks at home. During home visits, program staff reviews a wide variety of healthy homes issues, including carbon monoxide poisoning prevention. They go over the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and review the correct placement of carbon monoxide detectors. A brief home safety survey is required at the time of the visit. Following the home safety survey, products and services are given to each household based on need, as supplies last. For more information, call the Healthy Neighborhoods Program at (845) 364-3290 or (845) 364-3292.

To learn more about preventing carbon monoxide poisoning prevention, visit the New York State Department of Health website at