Take Steps to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, gas that can kill you before you are aware it is present. CO exposure is the leading cause of death due to poisoning in the United States. However, CO deaths are entirely preventable. Install CO alarms in your home and check them twice a year to make sure the batteries are working properly.

You risk CO poisoning when burning fuels such as wood, oil, natural gas, kerosene, coal, and gasoline near enclosed or occupied spaces, or under attached roofs.

  • Run generators far away from buildings.
  • Never use a gas range or oven for warmth.
  • Never use a charcoal grill or a barbeque grill in enclosed spaces, car ports, or covered porches.
  • Start and run gasoline-powered mowers, weed trimmers, snow blowers, and chain saws away from buildings.
  • Never use a stove or a fireplace unless it is properly installed and vented.
  • Never run your car, truck, or motorcycle inside a garage that is attached to a house -- or in a detached garage with the garage door shut.
  • Schedule annual maintenance for furnaces and other heat sources.

Early signs of CO poisoning are headaches, dizziness, nausea, weakness, or confusion. CO poisoning should be suspected if the following happen: symptoms occur or get worse soon after turning on a fuel-burning device; more than one person in the area gets sick at the same time; or if those who are sick feel better after getting away from the area.

If you suspect CO poisoning, immediately have everyone leave the area to get fresh air. Contact the fire department and the gas company, or a heating contractor. Schedule annual maintenance on home heating systems, including furnaces, fireplaces, chimneys, and other heat sources.

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