Carbon Monoxide Heat

Important Caution. Please Read This!

Use the information on this site AT YOUR OWN RISK, and read the disclaimer.








Subscribe for Free!

Never miss a post or update.

BONUS: Right now, you'll also receive "The Survival Doctor's Ultimate Emergency Medical Supplies" report—FREE!

We respect your email privacy.

 Subscribe in a reader

Find The Survival Doctor on FacebookFollow The Survival Doctor on TwitterFollow Me on PinterestFollow me on GoodreadsSubscribe to me on YouTube

This survival-medicine website provides general information, not individual advice. Most scenarios assume the victim cannot get expert medical help. Please see the disclaimer.

Carbon Monoxide: How Your Choice of Heat Can Kill You

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Group of lit lanternsCDC. A family of four found is found dead in a two-room tent with the propane heater still running. The cause of death: carbon monoxide poisoning.

A father and son fall asleep in their charcoal-heated tent. They don’t wake up.

Your choice of heat can kill you without singeing a hair.

Carbon monoxide is colorless and orderless—a silent killer. It’ s the leading cause of poisoning deaths. How can you ensure you or your family isn’t its next victim? When you’re camping or the heat goes off, remember that unless you have a working chimney, makeshift heating may be your greatest danger.


[Electricity's Out]

Carbon Monoxide Sources

Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of burning fossil (carbon) fuels. This includes

Everyday Poison Prevention

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from household heating, have a working carbon monoxide monitor on every floor, and make sure your heating units get checked regularly for leaks.

  • gas (diesel, gasoline for the car, kerosene, propane)
  • paper
  • candles
  • coal
  • charcoal
  • wood

With any heat source other than pure electricity, you must vent the fumes to the outside or risk carbon monoxide poisoning. The venting must have no leaks. No exceptions.

Some supposedly haunted houses have been explained by hallucinations from carbon monoxide poisoning.


[Headaches and Hauntings]
Signs and Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Think flu symptoms without the fever—headaches, drowsiness, heart palpitations to name a few. Add depression, even hallucinations, for low-dose, long-term exposures. Some supposedly haunted houses have been explained by the residents’ chronic carbon monoxide poisoning and resultant hallucinations.


[Get Out]
Treatment for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The treatment is oxygen—pure oxygen if you have a tank. Most people don’t, so go outside for fresh air. Of course, call an ambulance if needed and one’s available.


[Frog in a Frying Pan]

How Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Works

Carbon monoxide kills by replacing the oxygen in your red blood cells. It sticks on the cell where the oxygen should be and won’t let go. Inhaling carbon dioxide slowly deprives your body of essential oxygen, and you never even get short of breath. Kind of like the proverbial frog in the frying pan. Supposedly, if you turn the heat up gradually, it won’t even know it’s burning to death. With carbon monoxide, you go to sleep and don’t wake up.

As for the best methods for venting, that’s not my expertise. I would appreciate tips.