Every year, around this time, I like to remind people about the dangers of carbon monoxide gas. Whether in your home or your RV, when you fire up the furnace and bring out the portable heaters to help stay warm, there is the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide gas is invisible, odorless, and deadly! It is produced by the partial combustion of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels. This includes gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, wood, & coal. It is extremely serious when combustion by-products are not vented outside. Carbon Monoxide is the number one cause of poisoning deaths each year.

Let’s take a look at what we can do to prevent the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

In RV’s Carbon Monoxide Gas usually results from:

*  Exhaust leaks from either a vehicle engine or a generator.

*   Improper use of portable gas powered heaters.

*   Someone else’s vehicle or generator when camping in close quarters.

*  Malfunctioning or unvented LP gas appliances

First of all, if your RV doesn’t have a carbon monoxide detector you need to purchase a battery operated carbon monoxide detector designed for use in RV’s. Test the carbon monoxide detector every time you use the RV.  Replace the carbon monoxide detector batteries when you change clocks for daylight savings time.

*  Inspect the generator exhaust system before using the generator, every time.

*   Avoid leaving windows down and roof vents open when in close proximity to vehicle and/or generator exhaust.

*   Follow all directions and safety cautions and warnings when operating gas powered heaters.

*   If you use a portable generator direct the exhaust away from the camping area.

*   Never use the range burners or oven to heat the RV!

*   When cooking with the range burners use the range fan & leave a window cracked open for fresh air and ventilation.

 Teach everybody how to recognize carbon monoxide symptoms. Carbon monoxide symptoms are similar to flu symptoms, but without the fever. Symptoms include:

* Dizziness

*  Vomiting

* Nausea

*  Muscular twitching

*  Intense headache

*   Throbbing in the temples

*  Weakness and sleepiness

*  Inability to think coherently

If you or anyone else experiences any of these symptoms get to fresh air immediately. If the symptoms persist seek medical attention. Shut the vehicle or generator down and do not operate it until it has been inspected and repaired by a professional.

A basic understanding of what carbon monoxide gas is,  how to avoid exposure, and what the symptoms are can save lives. Make sure everybody in your home and/or RV is aware of carbon monoxide poisoning.

For more in-depth information on RV safety check out our RV Safety DVD.

Happy & Safe Winter Camping,

Mark J. Polk

RV Education 101


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  156. Rob

    Just wanted to say what a great article this is. I have often found that not enough is made of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, and it is still an unpublicised threat to the home and family. Well done! carbon monoxide alarm

  157. Red Chedester

    How high should the carbon monoxide detector be placed? tks, rc

  158. We spend so much time talking about carbon monoxide poisoning in the home, that we forget the possibility of CO poisoning in our vehicles as well. I think this is a great article and a big heads up to us all.

  159. Gary Mots

    Thanks for the response Mark.

  160. Gary

    No, unfortunately I don’t know where you might find a replacement sensor. If you can’t find the sensor you should replace the unit with a battery operated detector designed for use in RV’s.

  161. Gary Motshagen

    This article is very timely, the other day I changed my batteries in my carbon monoxide detector. A Costar model 9A-i. With the new battery, the unit will not stop the alarm. After reading the instructions, it says to replace the sensor when changing the batteries, to order go on line. When I tried to order the manufacturer says they quit selling the sensors five years ago. Do you have a source for the sensors?