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Protect Yourself From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

It is important for all of us to be knowledgeable about and mindful of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and poisonous gas that kills. It is produced by the incomplete burning of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels. More than 300 people die each year as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, the American Lung Association reports, and symptoms include: headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness and confusion. At high levels, carbon monoxide poisoning causes loss of consciousness and death.

When temperatures creep downward, people spend more and more time indoors finding ways to keep warm. We will crank up our thermostats, plug in space heaters and light fires in our fireplaces. Regardless of the methods used to keep homes warm, there are a number of important steps we all can take to reduce our exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning.

One of the most effective things you can is to install carbon monoxide detectors with an audible alarm in every separate sleeping area of your home. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), residents should look for and purchase carbon monoxide detectors that have labels showing that they meet the UL Standard for Safety 2034.

Here are some more important tips to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning from the CPSC and the American Lung Association:

  • Never use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens or clothes dryers for heating your home.

  • Have the heating system, chimney and flue inspected and cleaned annually. The inspector should check chimneys and flues for blockages, corrosion, partial or complete disconnections and loose connections.

  • Use kerosene space heaters and unvented gas heaters only in well-ventilated rooms.

  • Never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.

  • never operate unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room with closed doors or windows.

  • Never burn charcoal inside vehicles or in a home, cabin, garage, camper or tent.

  • Make sure appliances are installed and working according to manufacturers’ instructions and local building codes. Most appliances should be installed by professionals.

  • Only use a qualified technician to install or convert fuel-burning equipment from one type to another.

  • Do not operate gasoline-powered engines in confined areas such as garages or basements.

  • Make sure your furnace has adequate intake of outside air.

  • Choose vented appliances whenever possible.

  • Never ignore an alarm from a carbon monoxide detector. If the detector sounds, immediately ventilate your home by opening windows and doors. Gather everyone and move them outside to fresh air. Call your emergency services, such as the fire department or 911.


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