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September 18 is Carbon Monoxide Awareness Day in Tennessee

Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office Shares Safety Message
Thursday, September 16, 2021 | 08:55am

NASHVILLE – In honor of Carbon Monoxide Awareness Day, which is recognized every year on September 18, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office are sharing carbon monoxide safety messages to help save lives and reduce risks.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas created when natural fuels burn incompletely. In the home, heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel such as barbecue grills, fireplaces and fuel-powered heaters are potential CO sources. Campers and RV owners will frequently use generators when spending time outdoors. After severe storms and natural disasters, generators are also frequently used to provide power in the event that a home’s electrical system or power supply has been damaged or destroyed.

“Carbon monoxide can pose a health hazard to anyone, no matter the amount of carbon monoxide or the person who is exposed to CO,” said TDCI Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary Farley. “When using any fuel-burning equipment that might create carbon monoxide, Tennesseans can avoid a tragedy by always using caution and never using a gas generator inside your home, garage, carport, basement, crawlspace or outside near a window, door or vent.”

Carbon Monoxide Awareness Day was first recognized in 2015 when the Tennessee General Assembly approved legislation declaring September 18 of each calendar year as Carbon Monoxide Awareness Day in Tennessee. The designation was made in honor of five friends who died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning on September 18, 2011, in Clarksville. Jon and Kathryn Over, Jim Wall, Tim Stone and Allison Bagwell-Wyatt lost their lives at a children’s charity fundraiser when carbon monoxide fumes seeped into their rented RV from a generator. The RV’s carbon monoxide detector, which could have prevented the tragedy, was later discovered to have no batteries.

Christine Watson, who lost her daughter and son-in-law to the tragedy on September 18, 2011, worked with the State Fire Marshal’s Office to create a powerful testimonial warning others about the dangers of carbon monoxide. To help keep this important safety message in the public eye, the SFMO partnered with country music star Tracy Lawrence to create a safety video that highlights carbon monoxide safety tips.

To remind Tennesseans about the risks associated with carbon monoxide poisoning, the SFMO shares the following tips:

  • Never use a gas generator inside your home, garage, carport basement, crawlspace or outside near a window, door or vent. A generator should only be used outdoors and at least 15 feet away from buildings. It is dangerous to use a gas or kerosene heater inside a home or other building.
  • Never use a gas range or gas oven to heat your home. Do not use a gas or charcoal grill indoors, and do not burn charcoal in your fireplace.
  • Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open.
  • Do not use fuel-powered equipment in a garage or enclosed area.
  • Have fuel-burning heating equipment and chimneys inspected by a professional every year before cold weather sets in.
  • When using a fireplace, ensure the flue is open for adequate ventilation.
  • Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and confusion. Many of these symptoms are similar to common colds or seasonal flu. Breathing high levels of carbon monoxide can cause loss of consciousness or even death.
  • If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, immediately turn off possible sources of the gas.
  • Carbon monoxide detectors are important in protecting against poisoning by providing an early warning. These are widely available at home and hardware stores.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home or RV. For the best protection, interconnect all carbon monoxide alarms so that when one sounds, they all sound. Choose an alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the structure is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel arrive.

For more information on how to keep your family safe from the dangers of fire and carbon monoxide, visit